The AudioNotch Tinnitus Treatment Blog

Vagus Nerve Stimulation For Tinnitus

Written by AudioNotch Team on February 16, 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

Please note: the following information does not constitute professional medical advice, and is provided for general informational purposes only. Please speak to your doctor if you have tinnitus.


People suffering from severe tinnitus have a hard time finding helpful therapies. Now, a new treatment using vagus nerve stimulation for tinnitus relief is showing promising results for many people with this frustrating and debilitating condition.

Tinnitus is a medical condition in which a person hears ringing, whooshing, or buzzing sounds inside their head and ears. Many people experience short episodes of tinnitus symptoms from time to time. People with bad cases of tinnitus hear these sounds all the time, causing severe distraction, discomfort, and annoyance.

The Wandering Vagus Nerve

The vagus nerve is actually a long pair of nerves wandering throughout the body. (The origin of the word vagus means wanderer.) Much of the work done by the vagus nerve involves sending messages from bodily organs to the brain, alerting the brain about what the body is experiencing.

The vagus nerve is part of the parasympathetic nervous system starting in the 10th cranial nerve in the spinal cord and extending to the heart, stomach and other organs, and into the brain. The parasympathetic nervous system is composed of the nerves and hormonal receptors which quiet the body down after ‘fight or flight’ messages from the sympathetic nervous system.

Artificial stimulation of the vagus nerve has been in use for many years by researchers and medical professionals as a treatment for severe epilepsy. Now, new technology has been developed for stimulating the vagus nerve for tinnitus treatment, and many tinnitus sufferers are finding help with this therapy.

How Vagus Nerve Stimulation for Tinnitus Works

This therapy for tinnitus works by implanting a small electrical stimulator into the patient’s neck. The devise attaches to the vagus nerve close to the point where it enters the auditory cortex. The patient then puts on a set of headphones and listens to a series of tones specifically designed to train their brain to ignore the tinnitus frequencies.

During a session of using vagus nerve stimulation for tinnitus therapy, the patient hears frequencies above and below the frequency of the bothersome tinnitus tones. Over time, the person’s brain learns to ignore the tinnitus sounds, restoring normal activity in the auditory cortex.

For many people using vagus nerve stimulation for tinnitus treatment, the bothersome tinnitus sounds go away or subside considerably for several weeks after a treatment session. The treatment can then be repeated as needed in the patient’s home using headphones and the digital audio application.