Q: I received the COVID-19 vaccine a few weeks ago. Ever since then, I’ve had tinnitus in my ears. Is this a possible side effect? Will it go away?

A: We could find no studies demonstrating a link between COVID-19 vaccines and an increased risk of tinnitus. In this condition, a person hears a hissing, humming, buzzing or ringing sound that others can’t perceive. Quite a few readers have reported tinnitus following their vaccinations, so we don’t think it is completely coincidental. Unfortunately, we don’t know if it will go away.

Another reader wrote: “My wife suddenly developed a severe case of tinnitus in her left ear within two days of her second Pfizer vaccine. She lost most of her hearing as well, but it returned after her ENT doctor prescribed prednisone for one week. The tinnitus remains after six weeks with no end in sight. We would never know about this side effect (or others) but for publications like yours.”

COVID-19 infection itself has been associated with tinnitus (International Journal of Audiology, March 22, 2021). In addition, pandemic lockdowns made it harder for some people with tinnitus to get support (Frontiers in Public Health, Nov. 5, 2020).

Q: What can you tell me about Voltaren gel? I know that people can now buy this pain reliever without a prescription for joint pain. My dermatologist says it can also treat precancerous actinic keratoses that result from too much sun exposure. Why don’t people know about this?

A: Topical diclofenac (Voltaren Arthritis Pain Gel) was approved for over-the-counter use a year ago. The Food and Drug Administration considers it appropriate for relieving osteoarthritis pain in joints like knees and hands (but not for spine, hips or shoulders).

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We were intrigued by your dermatologist’s statement. Actinic keratoses are rough patches on the skin that are considered premalignant. These cells differ from normal skin.

A German study found that three months of treatment with diclofenac and hyaluronic acid (Solaraze) normalized metabolism and improved immune response (Frontiers in Oncology, July 3, 2019). However, the study treatment contained 3% diclofenac rather than the 1% available in over-the-counter Voltaren Arthritis Pain Gel.

To learn more about the pros and cons of topical diclofenac for treating inflammation, you may wish to read our eGuide to Alternatives for Arthritis. This online resource may be found in the Health eGuides section of www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Q: You have written about using mustard and dill pickle juice for leg cramps. I use a mix of honey and apple cider vinegar, and it works quickly.

My favorite thing to use for leg cramps, though, is glycerin. It also gives quick results. I just rub it on the muscle and within minutes the cramp is gone.

A: We have heard from a few other readers that applying glycerin purchased at the drugstore can relieve muscle cramps. One wrote: “I even experimented by leaving one leg untreated; ouch, it cramped! Glycerin has been working for me for about a year now.”

We could not find scientific studies of glycerin to prevent or treat nighttime leg cramps. However, we appreciate the experimental mindset of our readers. Topical glycerin is affordable and available without a prescription.