Tinnitus treatment does exist. It is available, natural and non-invasive.
Can you hear ringing in your ears? Are your doctors unable to find the exact cause? Or the treatment that actually works for you?
Then consider Chinese medicine and acupuncture as a treatment.
Chinese medicine can be an effective tinnitus treatment. Read a patient’s story in this article by Peter Popham for The Independent newspaper.
Here, we summarise the Western medical and Chinese medical approaches to treatment. For personalised advice on diet and lifestyle, please ask your AcuMedic doctor during your consultation.
If your question is not answered in this article then get in touch with us for free online health advice.
+ About Tinnitus
Tinnitus is a sound heard in one or both ears, when there is no external noise.
The sound is from the ear. Often described as ringing, buzzing, roaring, hissing or whistling. The noise can also be rhythmic, imitating the body’s heartbeat/pulse.
Tinnitus can be a temporary or permanent problem. The noise can affect concentration and cause insomnia. At a chronic stage, it can lead to anxiety and even depression. It is more common in people over the age of 60.
Tinnitus can persist throughout day and night. It can disappear at some times, while still being present for most of the day.
+ Possible Symptoms
- Persistent noise in the ear(s) such as ringing or other high pitched or low pitched noises. A rhythmic sound is also a common symptom.
- A sensation of blockage in one or both ears.
It is common for patients to experience both a blockage and noise in the ear at the same time.
+ Western Medical View
Tinnitus – possible causes
The exact cause has not yet been discovered. One of the risk factors associated with tinnitus is extensive exposure to loud noise.
Rule out other serious health problems first. Tinnitusis not seen as a condition in itself but as a symptom indicating a possible presence of:
- Wax buildup blocking the ear.
- Ear infection.
- Side effect of certain medications – anti-inflammatory, sedative, antibiotic or antidepressant drugs. There is a connection between medications and tinnitus as side effect. There are approximately 200 such prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Aspirin is one example.
- Benign tumour of the auditory nerve.
- A symptom of Menier’s disease – a problem affecting hearing and balance.
- A symptom of Otosclerosis. This is a hereditary condition causing the bones in inner ear to overgrow and block hearing.
- Injuries to the head and neck.
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome and other neck and jaw problems.
Yet, a tinnitus patient may not have any of the above health issues.
To prevent tinnitus, try to avoid loud noises and do not let earwax to build up.
Treatment – Western medicine
A background radio or masking device can help to distract the person from tinnitus.
+ Chinese Medical View
Aetiology – causes
There are two types of Tinnitus: Excess and Deficiency . Each type of tinnitus requires a particular type of treatment.
- The Excess type: Rising Liver and gall-bladder Fire are the cause. Sudden onset and loud sound. Chinese medical theory connects this type of tinnitus to emotional strain. The latter manifests as irritability. You may experience headaches and dizziness. You may notice a bitter taste in the mouth. Frequent thirst, redness of face and constipation are also common. Red tongue, with redder sides. The coating is yellow. The pulse is wiry and rapid.
- The Deficiency type: Kidney-Essence deficiency are the cause. The onset is gradual. The sound is low, sometimes like rushing water. It comes in bouts. You may notice slight dizziness with a feeling of emptiness of the head. Worsening memory. Blurred vision. Soreness in the bakc and knees. diminished sexual desire or performance. The tongue is pale (Kidney-Yang deficiency) or red (Kidney-Yin deficiency). No coating. A deep and weak pulse indicates Kidney-Yang deficiency. Whereas a floating-empty pulse suggests Kidney-Yin deficiency.
Chinese medical theory links the health of the ears with Kidneys and Heart. It also applied this to the sense of hearing. The Kidneys and Heart function to supply essential energy (Qi) and blood to the ears. Thus the Chinese medical tinnitus treatment focuses on tonifying Kidneys. Other areas within the body are also targeted for tonification.
How to understand Chinese medical diagnosis
This is not to say that tinnitus means damage to the patient’s kidneys, liver or the heart. A tinnitus patient may have these organs working in perfect condition.
The Chinese medical doctor will not try to affect the patient’s kidneys or heart.
Instead, their work is more subtle and natural.
They will work to influence the flows of blood and essential energies in the patient’s body. Chinese medical theory identifies these flows with discreet channels of energy circulation. Also known as ‘Meridians’.
A Chinese medical doctor must have in-depth knowledge of 12 such energy channels. These channels are the most affected by common conditions.
Chinese medical theory maps every energy channel onto a particular area of the body. But not on to the physical organ contained therein. In the case of tinnitus treatment, these organs are not involved.
Hence, during diagnosis a Chinese medical practitioner may attribute tinnitus to “kidney deficiency”. But they are not referring to the pair of elimination organs in the back of your body. Rather, they mean a group of energetic mechanisms. Chinese medical theory groups them under the rubric of ‘Kidney’. That is, not the organ but the entire circuit of energy.
This is the most common cause of misunderstanding in the translation of Chinese medicine.
The Chinese medical doctor can avoid such misunderstandings. On this website we capitalise the organ names when describing their energetic functions. For example, Liver, as opposed to liver.
Since the two terms refer to different things, you may even see both used in the same sentence.
Remember the difference between Kidney (Chinese medical theory), and kidney (Western anatomy and physiology).
Treatment – Chinese medicine
The Chinese medical doctor assesses the patient’s health to pinpoint the cause. The doctor seeks to determine if the tinnitus is of a Deficiency type or Excess type.
Is there a chronic shortage of essential energy (Deficiency)? Or is there a significant imbalance of energies in the patient’s body (Excess)?
The Chinese medical doctor must identify the relevant acupuncture points. They must also select the most useful Chinese herbs.
At the same time, they must maintain full grasp of the big picture. That is, the patient’s health. Their medical history. What other symptoms are present? Does the patient take any medications or supplements?
Many of those symptoms and conditions may seem unrelated to tinnitus. But shortness of breath, back pain, low libido, premature ejaculation are all important signs. These symptoms will influence the Chinese medical prescription.
After the diagnosis, the Chinese medical doctor will perform acupuncture. The treatment will stimulate the relevant acupoints on the patient’s body.
The purpose of acupuncture is to:
- Mobilise the body’s essential energies and boost their circulation. This is a natural, gentle process. This approach is useful if the cause of tinnitus is of a Deficiency type. That is, the sound in ears is low-pitched like rushing water. Symptoms include fatigue and back pain.
- To gather the energies and place them under control. This is useful if the cause of tinnitus is ‘Full’. That is, the body’s energies are scattering. The circulation lacks healthy balance – thus causing a high-pitched noise in the ear(s). Symptoms include headache and constipation.
The Chinese medical doctor will be looking at the entire circulatory systems of the body. The acupuncture will work at providing natural, careful rebalancing of energy flows.
The focus of acupuncture will be twofold:
- Regulate the body’s entire energy channels, where the imbalances have led to tinnitus. This involves stimulating points on the patient’s hand and foot, for example.
- To stimulate the points linked to the ear(s) affected by tinnitus.
The stimulation of points around the ear can cause a sensation of warmth inside the ear. It’s a pleasant feeling. It is sign that the doctor’s acupuncture technique has ‘clicked’ with the patient’s body. It means they have chosen the correct acupuncture points. And the required treatment ahs been set in motion.
Chinese herbal medicine treatments
The Chinese medical doctor should also prescribe a combination of Chinese herbs.
Each herb has natural affinity with the affected energy channel in the patient’s body. Thus the prescription functions to support the work of acupuncture. The formulation of the herbal prescription reflects Chinese medical theory.
If the tinnitus is due to a shortage of essential energies, the herbs will boost the patient’s energy. The prescription should work to improve blood circulation and reduce fatigue.
If it is due to an imbalance in the circulation of energy, the herbs will calm the body. The prescription should help acupuncture restore an orderly circulation in the body.
+ Lifestyle Advice for Treatment and Prevention
No matter how long you’ve been having tinnitus treatment, lifestyle changes are essential.
There are a few lifestyle pointers you should follow to stop the ringing in the ears and keep it at bay.
Be mindful of the harmful effects of stress. Avoid it. Do not harbour difficult emotions to the point where this becomes habitual. Learn to practice simple meditation.
Chinese medical theory connects emotional difficulties with tinnitus.
Avoid feelings of anger or hatred. Such emotional issues can cause Liver-Qi stagnation. This builds up Liver-Fire to rise and disturb the ears. This may cause tinnitus with a sudden onset and a loud noise.
Also, avoid prolonged sadness. Just like sadness, grief weakens the Lungs and Heart, which may also lead to tinnitus. A deficient Heart and Ling energy will fail to reach the head and brighten the ear orifices.
Avoid excessive sexual activity, physical and mental overwork. This can weaken the Kidneys. Weak Kidney energy cannot nourish the ears. This is the most common cause of tinnitus. The onset is gradual and the noise is of low pitch.
Do not eat too many dairy products and greasy foods. Avoid irregular eating times.
Irregular meals disturb digestion. This may lead Phlegm to form and rise to the head. Here, it blocks essential energy from reaching the head and nourish the ears. A turbid energy then descends from the head, resulting in tinnitus and dizziness.
Avoid long-term exposure to loud sounds. Night clubs and music venues play music at a high volume that can cause tinnitus.