Tinnitus is not actually an illness; it is a symptom-one that accompanies numerous medical conditions, including almost all ear ailments, anemia, cardiovascular disease, hypothyroidism, and head trauma. Tinnitus also can be caused by more than 200 prescription and over-the-counter drugs. In some instances, tinnitus can accompany noise-induced or age-induced hearing loss. Why a condition causes tinnitus is not well understood.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Continuous or intermittent ringing, buzzing, whistling, roaring, hissing, crackling, or other noise in the ear.
  • Continuous or intermittent hearing loss.

Conventional Medical Treatment

To determine what medical condition is triggering your tinnitus, your physician may perform a thorough physical exam and conduct a series of tests, including a hearing exam, a CAT scan, blood tests, and/or cardiovascular tests. Tinnitus itself is merely annoying-not harmful. Although most attempts to identify and treat the disorder causing tinnitus are unsuccessful, there are a number of techniques that can ease the problem. One such intervention is a tinnitis masker, a hearing-aid-like device that emits a pleasant noise into the ear, covering up the more annoying sound associated with tinnitus.

Complementary and Alternative Treatments

Nutrition and Supplementation

There is a high correlation between tinnitus and poor nutrition. A diet high in vegetable proteins and complex carbohydrates is vital to ear health. Freshly made juices are excellent sources of healing vitamins and minerals as well as valuable enzymes, and they are easily assimilated.

Some of the more important nutrients that can be supplemented daily include:

  • vitamin A (25,000 IU; do not exceed 8000 IU if you are pregnant)-strengthens mucous membranes
  • vitamin E (600 IU)-increases circulation
  • vitamin D (400 IU)-enhances immunity
  • potassium (99 mg)-important for transmission of nerve impulses
  • zinc (50 mg; do not exceed a total of 100 mg from all supplements)-quickens immune response; reduces infection
  • vitamin B complex injections (as prescribed by doctor)-reduces ear pressure
  • gingko biloba (as directed)

Ayurvedic Medicine

Ayurvedic practitioners consider tinnitus to be a vata problem. Ringing, buzzing, and whistling in the ears may be quieted by several Ayurvedic remedies. They may suggest sipping comfrey-cinnamon tea or taking yogaraj guggulu for relief.

Ayurvedic products are available at many health food stores and Indian pharmacies.

Bodywork and Somatic Practices

Manual therapies, such as CranioSacral Therapy, trigger point myotherapy, Hellerwork, or Rolfing would be a good first line of action. Strong backup methods include Oriental bodywork, Trager, reflexology, and massage.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Acupundure Acupuncture has been shown to be very successful at reducing or curing tinnitus. In addition to working on acupuncture points along the kidney meridian, the practitioner also may work on the kidney, back of head, and internal and external ear points in the ear itself.

Acupressure To alleviate tinnitus, the acupressurist may focus on Gallbladder 2 and 20, Small Intestine 3 and 19, Kidney 3, Triple Warmer 17 and 21, and Bladder 23 and 52, along with related auricular points.

Chinese Herbal Therapy Caltrop, schisandra, and curculigo are Chinese kidney-fortifying herbs often used in formulas to treat tinnitus. Patent medicines that may be given to remedy tinnitus include Anemarrhena, Phellodenedron and Rehmannia, Rehmannia Six, Rehmannia Eight, and Gentiana formulas.

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