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Tinnitus

MED-EL has pioneered research in the field of tinnitus reduction through cochlear implants. Tinnitus is the disturbing perception of noises of different frequencies and intensities in the absence of corresponding sound stimuli. Chronic tinnitus often adversely affects an individual’s quality of life and can interfere with normal audition.

Studies indicate that individuals with a severe to profound hearing loss and tinnitus may benefit from receiving a cochlear implant. Many cochlear implant users report a reduction in their tinnitus, while for others it disappears completely.  It should be noted that some users may experience new tinnitus after receiving a cochlear implant. MED-EL research is currently investigating possible therapies for tinnitus in controlled clinical studies. One such study investigates individuals with unilateral, severe, intractable tinnitus, associated with complete hearing loss in that ear. Results show that the severity of the tinnitus is reduced significantly following cochlear implantation, and that this reduction is maintained over long-term use of the device. Users wear the device during all waking hours. In addition, these individuals, who have unilateral hearing loss, are able to improve speech perception scores, particularly in noise and have better localisation abilities. The cochlear implant thus restores binaural hearing.
 
For more reading about cochlear implants as a treatment for tinnitus, please see the following articles:

  1. Kleinjung T; Steffens T; Strutz J; Langguth B (2009) Curing tinnitus with a Cochlear Implant in a patient with unilateral sudden deafness: a case report. Cases J, 2:7462, doi: 10.1186/1757-1626-2-7462.
    Summary: This case study matches outcomes from the study published by Van de Heyning et al (2008), which shows that a cochlear implant can treat tinnitus in users who have a unilateral hearing loss.
     
  2. Van de Heyning P; Vermeire K; Diebl M; Nopp P; Anderson I; De Ridder D. (2008) Incapacitating Unilateral Tinnitus in Single-Sided Deafness Treated by Cochlear Implantation. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol, 117(9): 645-652.
    Summary: Unilateral tinnitus resulting from single-sided deafness can be treated with electrical stimulation via a cochlear implant.
     
  3. Vermeire K; Nobbe A; Schleich P; Nopp P; Voormolen MH; Van de Heyning PH (2008) Neural tonotopy in cochlear implants: An evaluation in unilateral cochlear implant patients with unilateral deafness and tinnitus. Hear Res, 245: 98-106. 
    Summary: Cochlear implant users with functional hearing in the non-implanted ear produce a frequency-place function (using electrical stimulation) that on average resembles Greenwood’s function. 
     
  4. Vermeire K;Van de Heyning P. (2008) Binaural Hearing after Cochlear Implantation in Subjects with Unilateral Sensorineural Deafness and Tinnitus. Audiol Neurotol , 14(3): 163-171.
    Summary: Cochlear implantation can improve hearing in people who have single-sided deafness combined with tinnitus.
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