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

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

Peter Lucier, HIS
Latest posts by Peter Lucier, HIS (see all)

Along with hearing aids to treat hearing loss, there are some other treatment options that could relieve your experience of tinnitus, and keep your hearing safe. Changes in diet, and protecting yourself from loud noises, will have an effect on your hearing. Another treatment option is acupuncture, a common treatment in Traditional Chinese Medicine, that may also be effective for hearing loss and tinnitus.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a common treatment in Traditional Chinese Medicine that’s used to treat a variety of ailments from back pain and headaches, to insomnia and depression. An acupuncture session involves inserting very small, sterile needles into the skin in several key locations. Location and number of needles varies depending on the ailment that’s being treated. These needles are inserted at specific acupuncture points that stimulate certain muscles and the nervous system to improve blood flow, the release of chemicals and hormones, and promote the self-healing functions of the body.

Acupuncture for hearing loss or tinnitus usually involves placing the needles into the skin in and around the ear to stimulate these areas. These needles are almost as thin as a hair, and between 8 to 12 needles will be used to stimulate all the important locations around the ear. To get the best results, most people should receive at least 8 treatments. Continuing with a few more sessions may increase the benefits. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the acupuncture treatment will also include various herbs to accompany the acupuncture, and to continue taking at home to stimulate the body’s immune system.

Acupuncture for Hearing Loss & Tinnitus

While some studies claim that acupuncture can cure tinnitus or hearing loss, results are not very conclusive. Experts agree that acupuncture won’t cure hearing loss, but that acupuncture treatments could improve some types of hearing loss, most commonly sudden hearing loss, or nerve deafness.

Acupuncture for tinnitus is a lot more promising. Acupuncture is a common treatment for anxiety or stress, and stress and tinnitus are closely linked. When you feel more stressed, you’ll experience tinnitus more acutely, and this will make you feel even more stressed! Relieving stress with acupuncture can break this cycle, and help you manage your tinnitus more easily.

Is Acupuncture Safe?

If you want to try acupuncture for hearing loss or tinnitus, to relieve stress or anxiety, or to treat chronic pain, you can safely try acupuncture. Acupuncture has been a revered treatment method for centuries, and an expert acupuncturist knows exactly where and how to insert the needles to provide the most benefit.

Doctors agree that if you’re interested in acupuncture, you can give it a try. Acupuncture may help you with hearing loss, tinnitus, stress, and pain, and as long as you receive acupuncture from a professional acupuncturist who uses sterile needles, it’s safe. However, acupuncture can be costly, and most health insurance plans don’t cover acupuncture treatments.

When to Avoid Acupuncture

Be sure you always receive an acupuncture treatment from a licensed acupuncturist who uses sterile, disposable needles. Acupuncture isn’t recommended for pregnant women, people who take blood thinners, or anyone with a pacemaker. Finally, acupuncture for hearing loss and tinnitus won’t be effective if you have conductive hearing loss caused by structural problems, such as a punctured tympanic membrane, or a misalignment of the tiny bones in the middle ear.

Side Effects of Acupuncture

You may experience some brief side effects of acupuncture, either during the session or immediately afterwards. This could include nausea, dizziness, or faintness. It’s also common to feel some low-level pain or bruising around the areas where needles were inserted.

Treating Hearing Loss

If you have hearing loss, call your hearing health specialist to schedule a hearing test, and find out more about your unique hearing loss, as well as what sounds you’re missing. Then, evaluate your hearing needs and your lifestyle to find the hearing aids that will help you hear clearly. Many modern hearing aids even have built-in tinnitus therapy programs. These programs are designed to mask tinnitus by playing another sound at the same frequency as the tinnitus. You’ll be able to choose between white noise, pink noise, nature sounds, or your own music, and enjoy your day without stressing about your tinnitus or your hearing loss.

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