Chronic tinnitus: an interdisciplinary challenge

Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2013 Apr;110(16):278-84. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2013.0278. Epub 2013 Apr 19.


Background: Tinnitus is defined as the perception of sound in the absence of a corresponding external acoustic stimulus. It is a common problem that markedly impairs the quality of life of about 1% of the general population.

Methods: We selectively reviewed the pertinent literature to provide an overview of the current treatment options for chronic tinnitus.

Results: Cognitive behavioral therapy is effective and is the best studied of all currently available treatments. All patients should have a therapeutic interview for counseling. Auditory stimulation can also lessen tinnitus: It is used in tinnitus maskers and hearing aids, as well as in tinnitus retraining therapy. An improved understanding of the neural mechanisms of tinnitus has led to the development of innovative techniques of neuromodulation and neurostimulation, but these are still experimental. Drugs are indicated only for the treatment of tinnitus-associated symptoms such as depression, sleep disturbances, and anxiety.

Conclusion: There are many ways to treat chronic tinnitus, and new treatments are now being developed. As tinnitus has many causes and can be associated with many different comorbid disturbances, multidisciplinary diagnostic evaluation and treatment are important. For many tinnitus patients, long-term therapeutic success depends on the maintenance of a therapeutic relationship with the treating physician, so that the physician and the patient can work together to give careful consideration to each newly proposed diagnostic test or treatment step.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Tinnitus / diagnosis*
  • Tinnitus / prevention & control*