Cures for tinnitus
Top Five Remedies for Tinnitus
Tinnitus is not a disease, and is very rarely a symptom of a serious medical problem. But it can drive people crazy. Michelangelo wrote in his memoirs that he was “plagued by the incessant chirping of crickets.” It may also sound to the sufferer like buzzing, humming or even roaring — but no-one else can hear it. Tinnitus is surprisingly common. A British national study of hearing found that 10% of adults had prolonged spontaneous tinnitus — that is, tinnitus “usually lasting for longer than 5 minutes”; 1% had experienced severe annoyance due to tinnitus; and 0.5% had experienced a severely reduced ability to lead a normal life. Theories about the origins of this internal noise abound; treatments are scarcer. Many doctors will focus “therapy” on reassuring the patient that the problem is not life-threatening. Hopefully this reassurance comes after a thorough medical intake and exam. With a few exceptions, surgery specifically aimed at eliminating tinnitus is obsolete. Before exploring possible treatment strategies, let us consider the two broad categories of tinnitus, and the important “rule-outs” as to the cause of this confounding auditory irritation.
Long-standing, or chronic tinnitus, of longer than 6 months duration, is difficult to treat. The very best approach to tinnitus, as with any medical problem, is prevention. If you are beyond prevention, do consider the following list of possible causes and what to avoid, because it will help your tinnitus from worsening. Prescription drugs — even OTC drugs — are a major culprit. The primary offenders are aspartame (NutraSweet), aspirin, steroids, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, antihistamines, anti-seizure drugs, antibiotics (especially cephalosporins) and pain killers. If drug initiation corresponds with onset of tinnitus — bingo! Avoid the drug. Some tinnitus is due to circulatory problems, including low blood volume. Make sure you are not anemic, especially if also being tired, pale and having heavy menses. With that symptom picture you could also be hypothyroid. Make sure you don’t have high blood pressure, which often goes undetected without periodic check-ups. Is your cholesterol or triglyceride level too high? Do you have food allergies? Are you diabetic? Do you have an ear infection? Do you suffer from “TMJ” (temporomandibular joint dysfunction syndrome)? There may be a structural problem. Have you had a head injury? Is your eardrum perforated? Have the tiny bones behind the eardrum fused (otosclerosis)? Is there a cyst (cholesteatoma) anywhere in the ear or canal? Do you use nicotine or caffeine? And, last but not least, do you
now or have you ever listened to loud music? Using those Walkman-type devices with little earphones that go into the canal are particularly dangerous. And please don’t stand right under the speakers at aerobics class! Keep the volume low in your car, and at home including the TV. Damage to the tiny hair cells in the inner ear is irreversible. Protect your ears!
If the onset of your tinnitus is more recent, and none of the above is a possible cause, an inner ear virus is the likely culprit. Some of the treatment suggestions below will be helpful, and your tinnitus will probably resolve.
Top Five Treatment Approaches
Several controlled studies have shown acupuncture to improve tinnitus; just as many claim no benefit from acupuncture. Choose a licensed acupuncturist who has studied in China or Japan as part of their clinical training. Generally an MD acupuncturist has much less training. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) distinguishes chronic or intermittent tinnitus from an acute, or sudden onset. The chronic form usually presents with a low, buzzing sound and is associated with general weakness, and thought to be a “deficiency” condition. Thus, “tonifying” is indicated. The sudden onset tinnitus is thought to be due to “excess” and the ringing is low, like screaming or thunder, and is not relieved by pressure on the ear. This presentation is treated by removing the “obstruction” in the channels (meridians) around the ears. A basic acupuncture prescription for tinnitus, which may take 10 to 15 sessions for improvement, is San Jao 3 and 17, Gallbladder 2 and 43, with Kidney 3 and 6 for the chronic type. Scalp or ear points are also useful. TCM has been around for many centuries; acupuncture often works, and it doesn’t hurt.
Gingko biloba is one of the most studied herbal medicines. It is well established that Gingko enhances blood flow to the periphery (edges of the body), in particular to the head and brain. If your tinnitus is due to circulatory problems, Gingko is likely to help, otherwise it will merely improve your memory. Take 240 mg of a standardized Gingko (in capsule form) daily, ideally in divided doses. The product should claim to contain 24% gingkolisides or gingko heterosides. You will notice your thinking is sharper within 3 to 10 days. Relief from tinnitus will take longer; give it 6 weeks. Once relief is achieved, you can lower the dose maintenance levels of 40-60 mg daily.