1825: Electricity as Treatment for Deafness

William Wright on electricity as treatment (1825):

Electricity may be, and we find in some cases of diminished hearing, that it is a powerful auxiliary; but as electrical machines are too often in the hands of men incapable of judging to what cases electricity ought or ought not to be applied, so the author who writes in this loose way, and sends his book among the ignorant, is scattering firehands amongst combustibles. For instance, suppose a person becomes deaf from scarlet fever, attended with the usual sore throat, which, if it extends up the internal tube, leading from the upper part of the throat to the ear, generally produces ulceration and discharge from the external auditory passage—would any person of very moderate medical knowledge, in such a case, apply even the slightest power of an electrical machine?

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  1. Robert says:

    The “Actina” and other pseudo-electrical inhalers were advertised in the mid-to-late 1800s to cure deafness (they did clear up the sinuses!). For mush more on Victorian electro-quacks see the recent book: “The Medical Electricians.”

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