Here we look at the claims for antiepileptics.

Version: 2.1 Last updated: April 2023 To be reviewed: November 2025

Treatment details

Illustration of bottle of pills.





Some potential for harm



Evidence that it is not effective



The makers claim

That antiepileptics potentially reduce central auditory hyperactivity that may be related to tinnitus[1].

What is the treatment?

Antiepileptics are taken in pill or capsule form.

What are the downsides of this treatment?

Common side effects from clinical trials included nausea, dizziness, headache, tiredness[2].

Has there been research into this treatment?

Seven in the Cochrane review[2]. Eight RCTs considered by the Clinical Practice Guideline[1].

What does the research say?

There is no evidence to show that antiepileptics have a large positive effect in the treatment of tinnitus[2].

Carbamazepine and oxcarbazepine are not more effective than placebo in decreasing tinnitus severity[10].

Use of these drugs for epilepsy may result in tinnitus and other auditory dysfunctions[11].

There is no evidence to show that antiepileptics have an impact on tinnitus.

Side effects were experienced by 18% of patients in the trials reviewed[1].

Tinnitus UK


Studies seldom used appropriate outcome measures and had high risk of bias.

All online references accessed 1 November 2022 unless noted.

1. Tunkel DE, Bauer CA, Sun GH, et al. Clinical Practice Guideline: Tinnitus. Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery. (2014) 151(2_suppl): S1-S40.

2. Hoekstra CEL, Rynja SP, van Zanten GA, Rovers MM. Anticonvulsants for tinnitus. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2011) Issue 7. Art. No.:
CD007960. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.

3. Bakhshaee M, Ghasemi M, Azarpazhooh M, Khadivi E, Rezaei S, Shakeri M, et al. Gabapentin effectiveness on the sensation of subjective idiopathic tinnitus: a pilot study. European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology (2007) 265(5):525-30.

4. Dehkordi, MA, Abolbashari, S, Taheri, R, Einolghozati, S. Efficacy of gabapentin on subjective idiopathic tinnitus: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Ear Nose Throat Journal.
(2011) 90:150-158.

5. Reed HT, Meltzer J, Crews P, Norris CH, Quine DB. Guth PS. Amino oxyacetic acid as a palliative in tinnitus. Archives of Otolaryngology. (1985) 111: 803-805

6. Simpson JJ, Gilbert AM, Weiner GM, Davies WW. The assessment of lamotrigine, an antiepileptic drug, in the treatment of tinnitus. American Journal of Otology (1999) 20:627-31.

7. Donaldson I. Tegretol: a double blind trial in tinnitus. Journal of Laryngology and Otology. (1981) 95: 947-951

8. Hulshof JH, Vermeij P. The value of carbamazepine in the treatment of tinnitus. ORL: Journal of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology and Its Related Specialties (1985) 47:262-6

9. Hulshof JH, Vermeij P. The value of flunarizine in the treatment of tinnitus. ORL: Journal of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology and Its Related Specialties (1986) 48:33-6.

10. Gerami H, Saberi A, Nemati S, Kazemnejad E, Aghajanpour M. Effects of oxcarbazepine versus carbamazepine on tinnitus: A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Iranian
Journal of Neurology. (2012) 11(3):106–110.

11. Sherifa A Hamed (2017) The auditory and vestibular toxicities induced by antiepileptic drugs, Expert Opinion on Drug Safety, 16:11, 1281-1294, DOI: 10.1080/14740338.2017.1372420