What is the role of electrical stimulation in the treatment of tinnitus?

Updated: Feb 27, 2020
  • Author: Aaron G Benson, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Answer

Answer

Suppression of tinnitus by electrical stimulation of the inner ear has met with mixed success since Volta attempted direct current (DC) stimulation of his inner ears in the 1800s. Many variations of electrical stimulation have been tried, including cutaneous stimulation, brain stimulation, promontory stimulation, an electrically stimulating headset, and others. Although the authors of these studies frequently report tinnitus resolution in as many as 80% of their patients, the effects are often transient or continued stimulation is impractical. Since the first single channel cochlear implants were available, the reduction of tinnitus has been an interesting topic. But even in the case of continuous electrical stimulation of the inner ear using cochlear implants, results have been mixed. Therefore, electrical stimulation has advocates, but it is not considered one of the primary mainstream therapies for tinnitus.


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