by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A lady wrote:
I have had tinnitus for many years, but would consider it irrelevant to this point. Recently, I took one quinine sulfate pill and woke up the next morning with severe tinnitus. It has not gone away and I am scared that I will have this forever from just one pill. At first, I thought it would clear up since I never took another dose.
My rheumatoid arthritis doctor had prescribed quinine sulfate for leg cramps. I am sure he did not expect this result, nor did I. I have been miserable and don’t know what to do. I just want the tinnitus to go back to what I had before. I am having trouble believing that I might have this permanently and I’m also having trouble coping with the high pitched noise. Can you offer any help to me?
Like you, I wouldn’t have expected the first (and only) dose of Quinine to give you permanent tinnitus. At the same time, I am not totally surprised. Some people can take ototoxic drugs such as Quinine, and don’t seem to have any problems, while other people get hammered on the very first dose. Doesn’t seem fair, does it?
In my book, Ototoxic Drugs Exposed, on the page about Quinine, I note, “some Quinine derivatives cause significant and long-lasting tinnitus. As a result, you should not take Quinine if you already have tinnitus.”
Since you already had tinnitus, I’m afraid that you unfortunately fell into this category.
I understand what it is like. I’ve had tinnitus for more than 35 years now. However, the good news is that I don’t let it bother me. It is always there–but I keep it more or less in the background. Hopefully, you can learn to do the same.
Probably the easiest and fastest way to do this is to learn more about tinnitus and the many things you can do to help yourself. Some things work for some people and others work for others. The book When Your Ears Ring–Cope With Your Tinnitus–Here’s How gives you all the latest information on all kinds of tinnitus treatments, including how to become habituated to your tinnitus.
One of the best ways to cope with tinnitus is to ignore it. I’m assuming that your previous tinnitus didn’t bother you much if at all. This is because you didn’t form any emotional attachment to it.
If you get upset (to put it mildly) at your tinnitus, your limbic (emotional) system then thinks that it must be important–after all, mistress is getting upset about it, and she wouldn’t get upset about something that wasn’t important, would she? Thus, your limbic system then attaches a “red flag” to this tinnitus sound, and sends it up to your brain. When your brain receives this red-flagged sound, it, in effect, turns up its internal volume control so you hear it as even louder and more intrusive. Thus begins a vicious circle.
What you need to do is exactly the opposite–completely ignore your tinnitus by remaining emotionally detached from it (neither liking or disliking it), and instead, focus on the loves of your life. This will allow your limbic system to “deflag” it and slowly (hopefully) it will fade into the background like your other tinnitus.
This is not easy to do. For example, every time I think about tinnitus, my tinnitus gets louder. Right now, since I am writing to you about tinnitus, and it is otherwise quiet, my tinnitus is screaming at me. But when I go on to other things, it will soon quieten down. Just the nature of the beast.
In addition to learning to ignore your tinnitus, use any of the other tinnitus “remedies” listed in the above tinnitus book that you want to try. Together, something should work. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees. The good news is that the remedies in this book have helped many people. I am hopeful they will work in your case too.