by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A lady wrote,
I am 64 years old, and I have had tinnitus since around 1990. I have been taking Propranolol since 1979, which was originally prescribed for my migraines. At this point in my life, I have developed hypertension which is not controlled by this dose of Propranolol. My doctor is trying to find the proper blood pressure drug for me, but unfortunately, she knows little about ototoxic drugs, so I have to make my own suggestions to her. I realize that most ace-inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, and beta-blockers can be ototoxic.
My question is, ‘Are there any blood pressure drugs that do not seem to cause tinnitus or harm our ears?’ I understand that no drug is perfect and may cause other side effects, but I am feeling desperate to find a medication that would help control my blood pressure without worsening my tinnitus.
I sure understand your desire, but I can’t tell you which drugs do not cause tinnitus because I don’t compile information on non-ototoxic drugs, just on ototoxic ones. Thus, I really don’t know if there are other drugs in the above classes that are not ototoxic.
Since I list all known ototoxic drugs in the above classes in my book Ototoxic Drugs Exposed, if you find drugs in these classes that are not in my book, there is a good chance they are not ototoxic (unless they are new drugs just on the market).
If you want to stay on the typical prescription drug blood pressure medications, rather than use natural means to lower your blood pressure, then you need to look for the drugs with the fewest ototoxic side effects—and in your case, specifically for drugs that are not listed as causing tinnitus.
You can quickly and easily find this out if you have the latest edition of Ototoxic Drugs Exposed. All you’d need to do is turn to Table 14-1 and under section 20.8 you’ll find all the ototoxic anti-hypertensive drugs listed by class.
Thus, for example, if you wanted to know whether there are any Beta-blockers (section 20.8.12) that are not known to cause tinnitus, of the 19 Beta Blockers listed there, 4 of them are not listed as causing tinnitus. Therefore, you might want to suggest to your doctor that if you have to take a Beta Blocker, you’d like to try one of these four drugs if he thinks they will do the job—namely Labetalol, Levobunolol, Nebivolol or Sotalol—since none of these are known to cause tinnitus.
You can take this one step further and of these 4 drugs find the one that is the least ototoxic by looking each of these up in the main drug listings and compare all their ototoxic side effects. If you did this, you would find that Levobunolol is the least ototoxic, followed closely by Nebivolol. These two drugs are much less ototoxic in my opinion than the most ototoxic Beta Blockers such as Betaxolol and Propranolol.
However, if you want to bring your blood pressure down by natural means and not use prescription drugs you have other choices.
First you need to determine whether your blood pressure is too high or not. Far too many doctors want everyone to have ridiculously low blood pressure according to complementary medicine standards. You see, some people naturally have higher blood pressure and that is normal for them and is not wrong.
The rule of thumb seems to be that you should keep your blood pressure below 140/90, so if it is lower than that, you probably don’t have to worry about it. The book “Prescription Alternatives” explains that if you are over 60 (which you are), your blood pressure can be up to 180/100 and still be “normal” (although that is a very high “normal”). Thus, trying to get your blood pressure down to 120/80 may be completely wrong for you (but its a good way to sell more drugs).
You want to keep your blood pressure at a reasonable level to be sure. I suggest you first try to do this naturally, and only use drugs as a last resort.
The four main factors that can help reduce your blood pressure naturally are weight loss, exercise, diet and stress reduction. Here are a few examples to get you started.
Weight Loss: If you are overweight, for every 2 pounds of weight you drop, your blood pressure will drop at least 1 point.
Exercise: Just a brisk walk for 30 minutes 3 or more times a week can lower your blood pressure between 3 and 15 points in just 3 months.
Diet: Eat lots of fiber-filled vegetables and whole grains and drink plenty of water. For example, just eating 4 stalks of celery a day can significantly reduce blood pressure. So can taking garlic every day. Another secret to reducing blood pressure is drinking 6 to 8 glasses of clean water a day. It’s so simple that few people believe it works.
Stress Reduction: Getting your stress under control is almost guaranteed to bring down your blood pressure.
There are many natural and healthy ways to reduce your blood pressure if you are so inclined to try. I took much of the above information from the book “Prescription Alternatives” (1st edition) by Earl Mindell and Virginia Hopkins.
If you are serious about reducing your blood pressure the natural way without taking drugs, I recommend you carefully read the chapter “Drugs for Heart Disease and Their Natural Alternatives” in this book.
To find a good price on this book, go to Amazon and in the search box type the words “prescription alternatives”. You will have a number of choices from the 1st to the latest editions.
You can actually get this hardcover book on Amazon for as little as 1 cent to 10 cents (plus shipping which is typically about $4.00) so it is well worth it. There are newer editions too—you can get the latest edition in paperback form for as little as $11.48 (used).
Don’t let ototoxic drugs inadvertently damage your ears and cause hearing loss, tinnitus or balance problems. To learn which drugs are ototoxic, get the 3rd edition of Ototoxic Drugs Exposed. This book contains information on the ototoxicity of 877 drugs, 35 herbals and 148 chemicals.