A multidisciplinary systematic review of the treatment for chronic idiopathic tinnitus

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2017 May;274(5):2079-2091. doi: 10.1007/s00405-016-4401-y. Epub 2016 Dec 19.


The majority of tinnitus patients are affected by chronic idiopathic tinnitus, and almost 60 different treatment modalities have been reported. The present study is a multidisciplinary systematic analysis of the evidence for the different forms of treatment for chronic tinnitus. The results are used to form the basis of an S3 guideline. A systematic search was carried out in PubMed and the Cochrane Library. The basis for presenting the level of evidence was the evidence classification of the Oxford Centre of Evidence-based Medicine. Whenever available, randomised controlled trials were given preference for discussing therapeutic issues. All systematic reviews and meta-analyses were assessed for their methodological quality, and effect size was taken into account. As the need for patient counselling is self-evident, specific tinnitus counselling should be performed. Due to the high level of evidence, validated tinnitus-specific, cognitive behavioural therapy is strongly recommended. In addition, auditory therapeutic measures can be recommended for the treatment of concomitant hearing loss and comorbidities; those should also be treated with drugs whenever appropriate. In particular, depression should be treated, with pharmacological support if necessary. If needed, psychiatric treatment should also be given on a case-by-case basis. With simultaneous deafness or hearing loss bordering on deafness, a CI can also be indicated. For auditory therapeutic measures, transcranial magnetic or direct current stimulation and specific forms of acoustic stimulation (noiser/masker, retraining therapy, music, and coordinated reset) for the treatment of chronic tinnitus the currently available evidence is not yet sufficient for supporting their recommendation.

Keywords: Cochlear implant; Cognitive behavioural therapy; Drug therapy; Retraining therapy; Tinnitus.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Disease Management
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Hearing Loss / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Tinnitus* / diagnosis
  • Tinnitus* / physiopathology
  • Tinnitus* / psychology
  • Tinnitus* / therapy