A new study has found that cannabis use is common among patients with tinnitus – and the vast majority report finding it helpful for managing symptoms.
The recent study, published in February in the Journal of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, is thought to be the first to explore the use of cannabis and its effects in patients with tinnitus.
Tinnitus is when a person hears noises that are not coming from an outside source, such as humming, ringing, buzzing or whooshing. It can be linked to a form of hearing loss, a preexisting condition such as Ménière’s disease, diabetes, or thyroid disorders, or a side-effect of medication.
It can have a significant impact on quality of life affecting sleep, concentration and mood, and around half of patients will also experience psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety and depression. There is no cure and current treatments include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Setting out to develop more understanding of how cannabis is being used by those presenting with tinnitus, researchers surveyed 45 patients with an average age of 56, to assess their perception, attitudes and usage patterns.
According to their findings, 96% of patients reported that they would consider cannabis as treatment for their tinnitus.
Of those patients who were actively using cannabis, 80% reported that it helped with tinnitus-related symptoms, such as dizziness, anxiety, bodily pain, and sleep disturbances.
The majority of patients said they used or would prefer to use edibles, with some using tablets, smoking/vaporisers, oils and cream.
Almost all (98%) of patients said they would be interested in learning more about cannabis if it were shown to help with tinnitus-related conditions.
Despite the study’s limitations, including the fact that it didn’t capture the duration or severity of patients’ tinnitus symptoms, the authors state: “The results of this study demonstrate an active interest amongst patients with tinnitus to consider cannabis as a potential adjunctive treatment for symptom management. Moreover, cannabis use is both common and can be beneficial in this patient population.”
They go on to say that the findings could be used to support further research and to help doctors understand the use of cannabis in this patient group, as currently most patients are receiving information on cannabis from ‘non-medical’ sources.
“This data may lay the groundwork for future research and clinical trials on cannabis use for tinnitus alleviation,” they conclude.
“Otolaryngologists can develop an understanding of patient attitudes and usage patterns to guide patient counselling on the use of cannabis for symptoms associated with tinnitus.”
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