Acupuncture for Hearing Loss & Tinnitus: Does it Really Work?

Acupuncture is an ancient medical treatment that began in China. This therapy involves sticking small needles in very specific parts of the body. It may be used to treat pain and help with other conditions. A person with hearing loss may want to try acupuncture for sensorineural hearing loss. It may target the nerves responsible for this problem.

Understanding Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss happens when the nerves cannot send sound signals to the brain. The human ear has tiny hairs that send the sounds through the rest of the ear. Loud noises over 85 decibels can damage these hairs. The nerves that send the signals may also become damaged. Acupuncture may be useful in the treatment of nerve damage.

Conductive hearing loss occurs when hearing is blocked. This may happen if the ear canal is full of earwax or part of the ear’s is damaged.

Understanding Tinnitus

A person with tinnitus will hear ringing. Tinnitus is very common with around 20% of people dealing with the problem. The ringing isn’t a condition on its own. People with tinnitus have another more significant hearing problem and the ringing is just a symptom of the larger issue.

Tinnitus has a link to sensorineural hearing loss. Very loud noises cause sensorineural hearing loss, and ringing may be a direct result of exposure to loud noise. For example, people often hear ringing after loud concerts. Some people have ringing every once in a while. But, it is a constant issue for others. People who have constant ringing will usually seek treatment. Finding a treatment method is hard because doctors can only verify the condition by asking the patient if he still has it.

Acupuncture – Needle Therapy

People use acupuncture to treat a wide variety of conditions. In addition, medical practitioners see acupuncture as a real form of treatment. During this treatment, they will insert needles into the skin. They use heat and electrical impulses to stimulate the release of chemicals that trigger the body’s natural healing abilities. This area of medicine isn’t well researched. There isn’t strong evidence to suggest this sort of treatment will help with tinnitus, but many people say it helps them. A 2015 study in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine showed that acupuncture with medication can help some people treat their tinnitus.

Does Acupuncture Stop the Ringing?

There is no cure for tinnitus, so treatment plans are typically just to treat the symptoms as much as possible. Some believe the ringing may be secondary to an issue in the gallbladder or kidneys. Acupuncturists may target these areas to eliminate symptoms.

This treatment may help minimize tinnitus, but there is not enough research on the subject to prove this statement. There isn’t any evidence that shows it can make the symptoms worse, so it may be a good idea to give it a try. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says acupuncture done by professionals is safe. You may have some pain or tenderness after the treatment, but this usually goes away within a few days.

Seeking Treatment for Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

For acupuncture, you will want to seek help from a therapist who specializes in ear treatments. In addition, you don’t need a referral from a doctor to receive these treatments.

Also, keep in mind, hearing aids may offer a tinnitus treatment as well. A hearing specialist can diagnose and treat hearing loss. They will do a hearing test and if necessary, discuss hearing aids. There are many types of hearing aids on the market, so you want to speak with someone who knows a lot about the different features. Some hearing aids have a “Tinnitus Masker”. This has helped people reduce their struggle with ringing in the ears.

Reach out to a hearing instrument specialist near you! Let them explain how the tinnitus masker works. You may even be able to try it out for yourself!

Jesse Hidalgo, BC-HIS

Jesse is Board Certified in Hearing Instruments and has built over 25 practices during his business career starting in 1998. Using his training in Hearing Instrument Sciences he has helped thousands of patients across those practices hear better.
Published: December 2, 2019
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