Introduction: Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the absence of an external stimulus. It is a frequent condition for which there is as yet no pharmacological treatment approved. Auditory and non-auditory pathways are involved in tinnitus’ pathophysiology. Oxytocin is a neurohormone and eventual neurotransmitter that plays a complex role in social cognition and behavior.
Objective: To evaluate the potential of oxytocin as a tinnitus treatment.
Study design: Two studies were performed. Study 1 was a long-term open pilot study, while study 2 investigated short-term effects with a double-blinded placebo-controlled cross-over study.
Setting: Ambulatory ENT care.
Subjects and method: In study 1, 15 patients were investigated over a 10-week period in an open pilot study. In study 2, 16 patients were included in a placebo-controlled crossover trial to investigate short-term effects following a single dose.
Results: For the long-term study (study 1), analysis of variance revealed a significant decrease in tinnitus sensation, both for the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory and Clinical Global Impression (CGI). Also, the short-term effects in study 2 revealed a significant reduction of tinnitus because of the oxytocin nasal spray as measured with the Visual Analog Scale and the CGI Scale.
Conclusion: These preliminary studies demonstrated that oxytocin may represent a helpful tool for treating tinnitus and further larger controlled studies are warranted.