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People’s Pharmacy: Is ringing in the ears a side effect of vaccines?

UPDATED: Wed., May 12, 2021

Razziq Khusro, 35, gets his first Moderna vaccination from Jeremy Fitchett of the Army National Guard on Friday, April 2, 2021, at the Spokane Arena.  (Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review)
Razziq Khusro, 35, gets his first Moderna vaccination from Jeremy Fitchett of the Army National Guard on Friday, April 2, 2021, at the Spokane Arena. (Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review)
By Joe Graedon, M.S., and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D. King Features Syndicate

Q. I received the Moderna vaccine. After the second shot, I developed tinnitus that has lasted five weeks (so far). I haven’t found much about this side effect online in medical reports.

However, I did find a forum with other people complaining of tinnitus that has not gone away. Have you heard of this? Can you give me some hope that it will go away in time?

A. As far as we can tell, the clinical trials for the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines did not reveal tinnitus (ringing in the ears) as a side effect.

There are, however, some reports in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System database.

We have received a couple of similar stories:

“I’ve had both doses of Moderna vaccine. After the second dose, my chronic tinnitus, which was worked up extensively in the past, got louder and continues that way over a month later.”

Another person wrote: “I received my last shot of the Pfizer vaccine two weeks ago. I had COVID in June 2020, and it caused some ringing in my ears. I never connected it to COVID, though.

“Then after each injection, I got more ringing in my ears. It’s now worse than ever. Will it ever go away? I hope it is just temporary and will resolve with time.”

The possibility of tinnitus as a rare vaccine side effect should not discourage people from getting their shots.

As our reader above noted, COVID-19 infections themselves can cause tinnitus. One study found that 6.6% of hospitalized patients developed this condition (International Journal of Audiology, online, July 31). Only time will tell if the ringing will fade.

Q. Thank you for writing about authorized generic drugs. I know this topic too well, as both my teenage son and I have ADD/ADHD respectively.

I have spent months battling with pharmacies to get authorized generic methylphenidate for each of us. The new Patriot brand that uses the OROS delivery system is a true authorized generic, but it is difficult to find.

A. The Concerta brand of methylphenidate comes from Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of the Johnson & Johnson drug company.

This special extended-release formulation uses OROS technology (osmotic-controlled release oral delivery system).

The goal of such formulations is to provide a gradual and sustained blood level of the active medication.

According to GoodRx, the price of brand-name Concerta averages around $500 a month. The authorized generic from Patriot Pharmaceuticals is identical to the brand name and should be far more affordable.

Getting your pharmacy to stock the Patriot AG of methylphenidate might take some arm-wrestling, though. For more information on this process, you may want to check here: https://wp.me/p5Ilzb-2w1.

To learn more about authorized generic drugs and other ways to obtain quality medicines at affordable prices, you may wish to read our eGuide to Saving Money on Medicine. This electronic resource is available in the Health eGuides section of peoplespharmacy.com.

Q. I read your column about coffee being helpful against dementia. Does decaf also help? I only drink decaf, whole bean and grind my own.

A. Caffeine is not the only compound in coffee that might help protect the brain. Other potentially beneficial chemicals include caffeic acid, quercetin, chlorogenic acid and trigonelline (International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Dec. 24). This suggests that decaf might be beneficial.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email them via their website peoplespharmacy.com.

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