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Treatment of tinnitus

Elizabeth A Dinces, MD
Section Editor
Daniel G Deschler, MD, FACS
Deputy Editor
Daniel J Sullivan, MD, MPH


Tinnitus is a perception of sound in proximity to the head in the absence of an external source. The sound may be a buzzing, ringing, or hissing, although it can also sound like other noises.

Tinnitus is most commonly associated with hearing loss, though it may be a presenting symptom of vascular or neurological abnormalities. Once a serious underlying medical condition has been ruled out, treatment should be directed at the symptom itself, which severely interferes with the quality of life in approximately 10 percent of patients with tinnitus [1].

This topic will review the treatment of tinnitus. The epidemiology, pathogenesis, and diagnosis of tinnitus are discussed separately. (See "Etiology and diagnosis of tinnitus".)


Treatment for tinnitus includes correcting identified comorbidities, as well as directly addressing the effects of tinnitus on quality of life. For many patients, tinnitus is a chronic condition; goals of treatment are to lessen its impact and any associated disability, rather than to achieve absolute cure. Several treatment modalities have been studied, including behavioral treatments and medications, but the benefit for most of these interventions has not been conclusively demonstrated in randomized trials [2-4]. A comparative effectiveness study on treatment for tinnitus for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that research is limited by the lack of data regarding measures to assess patients, and poorly collected data regarding adverse effects of a variety of interventions [4].

Associated factors — Prior to initiating therapy for tinnitus, it is important to address other associated conditions that can exacerbate tinnitus.

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Literature review current through: Oct 2017. | This topic last updated: Feb 26, 2016.
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