Vagus nerve stimulation is a well-known and effective treatment for several disorders, including epilepsy and intractable depression. In recent clinical trials, Drs. Vanneste and De Ridder of the Lab for Auditory & Integrative Neuroscience found that half of test subjects with previously unresponsive tinnitus symptoms experienced significant tinnitus relief during and up to two months after the vagus nerve stimulation.
The researchers reported the treatment was less effective on the other half of the test subjects. The reduced efficacy of the treatment for the remaining subjects is thought to be due to a number of prescribed medications that the subjects were taking. Another factor that might have limited the success of the treatment was that a number of participants had experienced the tinnitus for a very long time. There is a possible link between the amount of time a person has experienced tinnitus and the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of a particular treatment.
According to Dr. Vanneste in a recent article for The Hearing Journal (September 2014), “Even though certain patients were intractable to all other treatments, the ability to help 60 percent to 80 percent of drug-free patients who have chronic, severe tinnitus seemed sufficient to warrant further studies tailored to drug-free patients.”
A second clinical trial is now under way, and more information is available at TinnitusTrial.com.