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Do you have tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or other hearing problems?

You may have a dietary deficiency or a blood disorder.

Tinnitus (pronounced TIN-i-tuss) is the medical term for ringing in the ears. Rarely, tinnitus is due to an actual sound, such as blood rushing through an enlarged vein—a problem that requires medical treatment. More commonly the problem is due to nerve irritation from an unknown source or an underlying ear problem often induced by noise damage. The cause of tinnitus should be diagnosed by a doctor.

What are the symptoms of tinnitus? Symptoms may include hearing buzzing, roaring, ringing, whistling, or hissing sounds. These sounds may be intermittent, continuous, or pulsing. Tinnitus may interfere with normal activities and sleep, and there may be an associated decrease in the ability to hear conversation or other sounds in the environment.

Dietary changes that may be helpful: Ménière’s disease (a condition characterized by tinnitus, vertigo, and hearing loss) is reportedly associated with various metabolic abnormalities, including elevations of serum cholesterol and/or triglycerides and abnormal regulation of blood sugar. In one trial, people with Ménière’s disease who replaced refined carbohydrates in their diet with foods high in fiber and complex carbohydrates frequently experienced an improvement or disappearance of their tinnitus.1

Some causative factors of hearing problems

Iron deficiency
Magnesium deficiency
Vitamin A deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency (tinnitus)
Vitamin D deficiency
Zinc deficiency (tinnitus)
Excessive fat in the diet
Excessive rigidity of the red blood cells or high viscosity (stickiness) of the blood, leading to poor circulation to the ears

Nutritional supplements that may be helpful: Zinc supplements have been used to treat people who had both tinnitus and hearing loss (usually age-related). Of those who had initially low blood levels of zinc, about 25% experienced an improvement in tinnitus after taking zinc (90–150 mg per day for three to six months). Such large amounts of zinc should be monitored by a doctor. Two controlled clinical trials found no benefit from zinc supplementation (66 mg per day in one double-blind trial) in people with tinnitus. However, participants in these studies were not zinc deficient. Preliminary research suggests that zinc supplementation is only helpful for tinnitus in people who are zinc deficient. 

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