Objective: To systematically test the effectiveness of alprazolam as a pharmacological agent for patients with tinnitus.
Design: Prospective, placebo-controlled, double-blind study.
Patients: Forty adult patients with constant tinnitus who had experienced their tinnitus for a minimum of 1 year and who resided in the Portland, Ore, metropolitan area. Twenty patients were randomly assigned to the experimental group and 20 to the control group.
Results: Seventeen of 20 patients in the experimental (alprazolam) group and 19 of the 20 in the placebo (lactose) group completed the study. Of the 17 patients receiving alprazolam, 13 (76%) had a reduction in the loudness of their tinnitus when measurements were made using a tinnitus synthesizer and a visual analog scale. Only one of the 19 who received the placebo showed any improvement in the loudness of their tinnitus. No changes were observed in the audiometric data or in tinnitus masking levels for either group. Individuals differed in the dosages required to achieve benefit from the alprazolam, and the side effects were minimal for this 12-week study.
Conclusions: Alprazolam is a drug that will provide therapeutic relief for some patients with tinnitus. Regulation of the prescribed dosage of alprazolam is important since individuals differ considerably in sensitivity to this medication.