Understanding Omeprazole’s Potential Influence On Tinnitus

Woman holding her stomach in pain

Omeprazole, a commonly used medication for conditions related to excess stomach acid such as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), acid reflux, and ulcers, has been scrutinized for its potential link to tinnitus — a persistent and often disruptive ringing or buzzing in the ears. 

As a proton pump inhibitor, omeprazole reduces stomach acid secretion, relieving symptoms including heartburn, difficulty swallowing, and persistent cough. Despite its therapeutic effects, emerging research suggests a potential correlation between omeprazole use and the onset of tinnitus. 

This article explores the role of omeprazole, its potential links with GERD and tinnitus, the findings of recent studies exploring this relationship, and the recommended course of action if omeprazole-induced tinnitus is suspected.

Understanding Omeprazole: Its Uses and Mechanism

Omeprazole is a medication that has gained widespread recognition due to its efficacy in treating a range of conditions related to the digestive system. Specifically, it’s most commonly used to treat conditions such as GERD, acid reflux, and ulcers. These conditions are usually characterized by the overproduction of stomach acid, which omeprazole works to combat.

"Treble Health helped me reduce my tinnitus by about 80%, and now I can live my life again!"
"Treble Health helped me reduce my tinnitus by about 80%, and now I can live my life again!"
– Steve D.
Which Treble Health solution is right for you? Join Steve and thousands more who found relief from tinnitus.

This medication falls into a category known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). As their name suggests, PPIs operate by inhibiting the function of proton pumps in the stomach lining, which are responsible for stomach acid secretion. By reducing the amount of acid produced, these drugs help to alleviate the symptoms of conditions like GERD and acid reflux, which include heartburn, difficulty swallowing, and chronic cough.

A patient speaking with a doctor at a desk

Omeprazole can be obtained in two ways: over-the-counter for managing minor symptoms or via a prescription from a doctor for more serious cases. It’s also a constituent in a variety of popular brands, including Prilosec, Omesec, and Zegerid. This makes it a very accessible drug for many people suffering from these types of gastric conditions.

The Link Between GERD, Acid Reflux, And Tinnitus

What might not be as well-known is the link that has been established between GERD, acid reflux, and auditory issues such as hearing loss and tinnitus. The nexus between these seemingly disparate health conditions lies in the laryngeal symptoms GERD can cause due to the impact of gastric juices.

A 2015 study conducted by Bhargava, Cherian, Cherian, & Gupta detailed this intriguing relationship. The researchers posited that the gastric juices induced by GERD could negatively affect the ears, potentially leading to a wide range of problems. These include Eustachian Tube Dysfunction, which is a disruption of middle ear pressure regulation, ear infections, and ear pain.

However, the effects do not stop there. Eustachian Tube Dysfunction on its own can lead to other complications such as hearing loss, middle ear dysfunction, aural fullness, dizziness, and tinnitus. So, the connection between gastric conditions like GERD, auditory problems, and tinnitus may be more intertwined than it initially appears.

The Potential Role Of Omeprazole In Causing Tinnitus

While GERD and acid reflux have been shown to potentially contribute to tinnitus, the role of omeprazole itself in causing this condition is more complex and is a topic of ongoing research.

Proton pump inhibitors like omeprazole have been shown to inhibit the secretion of hydrogen/potassium adenosine triphosphate in the cochlea (inner ear). This enzyme is vital for the proper functioning of the cochlea, and inhibiting it could theoretically increase the risk of hearing loss in individuals taking PPIs. This is due to the cochlea’s important role in processing and transmitting sound signals to the brain.

In 2021, a study by Yee et al. explored the potential links between PPI use and hearing issues. A hospital-based case-control study found that PPI use was associated with a 1.6-fold increased risk of sensorineural hearing loss or tinnitus. The same trend was seen in a population-based cohort study, with PPI use leading to a 1.5-fold increased risk of these conditions. This study lends some scientific credence to the connection between omeprazole usage and tinnitus.

Is Omeprazole-Induced Tinnitus Permanent?

When it comes to the question of whether omeprazole-induced tinnitus is permanent, the available research is not definitive enough to provide a conclusive answer. More comprehensive studies are required to ascertain the potentially harmful effects of omeprazole on the inner ear and the lasting impact it may have on tinnitus.

Scientist looking into a microscope

Given the lack of clear-cut evidence, it’s essential for individuals experiencing tinnitus symptoms that may be linked to their medication to consult their prescribing doctor. Open communication is crucial in this scenario, as it enables healthcare professionals to make informed decisions regarding potential changes in dosage or the exploration of alternative medications or treatment options.

The Variable Nature Of Drug-Induced Tinnitus

Not all cases of drug-induced tinnitus are necessarily permanent. The outcome can vary depending on several factors, including the specific drug involved, individual susceptibility, and the extent of the damage caused to the inner ear structures. While some cases may result in lasting damage and persistent tinnitus, others may find relief by simply ceasing the use of the drug or adjusting the dosage.

It’s important to stress that decisions regarding the management of tinnitus symptoms should always be made in consultation with a healthcare professional. They can provide personalized advice and guidance based on an individual’s circumstances, helping determine the best course of action for managing drug-induced tinnitus.

Understanding Omeprazole’s Potential Influence on Tinnitus

While omeprazole has been widely used to treat gastric conditions, including GERD and acid reflux, its potential role in causing tinnitus is still being explored. Research suggests that there may be a connection between PPI usage and an increased risk of hearing loss or tinnitus. 

However, more studies are needed to understand omeprazole’s precise mechanisms and long-term effects on the inner ear. If you suspect that your medication, including omeprazole, is contributing to tinnitus, it is important to consult with your doctor to discuss potential changes in your tinnitus treatment. 
The permanence of drug-induced tinnitus can vary, with some cases being reversible upon discontinuation of the drug or dosage adjustments. In general, seeking professional medical advice is crucial in managing tinnitus symptoms and ensuring the best possible outcome.

Next Step: Take The Tinnitus Quiz

More To Explore


Treble Health Audiologists Are
Professional Members Of The


Tinnitus Web Class
THIS Wednesday only

A special online event to help you find relief from tinnitus.

Class starts Weds at 8 p.m. EST.

Tinnitus Relief Starts Here

Looking for tinnitus relief? Our specialists are available to help. Schedule your complimentary telehealth consultation today.

By clicking ‘Unlock $700 Off’, you consent to receiving information about Treble products and services via email and accept Treble’s Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.