A 58-year-old woman had been deaf in her left ear for 18 years. And this had greatly affected her life and ability to work. She had consulted many doctors and tried many types of treatment to no avail. Just when she fell into despair, she was referred to Dr. Gwo-Bin Wu, director of Xinyitang Chinese Medicine Clinic. The latter treated her deafness with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. After a while, 70 percent to 80 percent of her hearing gradually recovered, and she almost cried with joy.
Tinnitus and deafness are common problems among the elderly. Nowadays, young people often listen to music and watch videos with headphones, or are constantly in a noisy environment, so they have become prone to tinnitus as well. In this article, Dr. Wu will teach us five exercises to improve tinnitus and deafness, and make our hearing more sharp.
4 Common Causes of Tinnitus
There are two difficulties in diagnosing tinnitus. One is that there is no equipment or blood test that can determine the cause of tinnitus, and the other is that the cause of tinnitus is more complex, often due to a combination of two or three factors.
Tinnitus is only a symptom. To cure tinnitus, the cause must be identified first.
When treating tinnitus, the doctor must pay attention to the other symptoms the patient has, as there are many symptoms that seem to be unrelated to tinnitus but are the key to its treatment. There are four common causes of tinnitus and deafness, each associated with specific symptoms.
- Autonomic dysfunction
Clinically, 70 percent of people with tinnitus have autonomic dysfunction. These patients are often in a state of tension, anxiety, panic, and have insomnia.
Insomnia is the most common symptom of tinnitus patients. Poor sleep aggravates tinnitus, which in turns aggravates insomnia, forming a vicious cycle. In traditional Chinese medicine, Dr. Wu added, these patients are suffering from an exuberance of “liver fire,” so treatment must involve clearing the liver fire.
- Misalignment of the cervical spine
Many patients with tinnitus and deafness experience neck pain. By pressing their neck muscles, they can find some obvious tender points (i.e. pressure points), which imply the problem of cervical spine misalignment (nine safe realignment exercises can be found here).
Cervical spine misalignment is usually caused by poor posture or trauma, resulting in poor blood circulation between the neck and the brain and nerve conduction disorders, which in turn lead to tinnitus or deafness.
In this type of patient, the cervical spine is often found to be fine after an X-ray or MRI scan. However, through palpation, a misalignment of the cervical spine can be found. In this case, to cure tinnitus, the misaligned cervical spine must be repositioned.
- Eustachian tube obstruction
If you have a stuffy feeling in your ears, you should be aware that there may be an obstruction in the Eustachian tube.
Eustachian tube obstruction can cause the pressure in the middle ear to be unbalanced, making it difficult for the patient to hear sounds clearly, or to feel like their ears being covered. Sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, gastroesophageal reflux, and colds can easily cause inflammation of the nasal mucosa and increase its secretions, which can lead to Eustachian tube obstruction over time.
- Kidney essence deficiency and the “sunken spleen qi syndrome”
Some people with tinnitus may suffer from dizziness, weakness in the waist and knees, poor appetite, and fatigue. These patients mainly suffer from deficiency of kidney essence, and the sunken spleen qi syndrome, resulting in poor circulation in the brain and ears.
Why Acupuncture Works
In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is the most effective treatment for tinnitus and deafness. Generally speaking, acupuncture points around the ears, such as Yifeng Point, Wangu Point, and Tinghui Point, are punctured first. Then treatment based on the patient’s symptoms and pulse condition is performed.
It is generally believed that the golden period for tinnitus treatment is within three months of the symptom’s onset, and that the treatment effect beyond three months is poor. Dr. Wu disputes this. There are many people who have had tinnitus for more than a dozen years who still have a chance to be cured by traditional Chinese medicine practitioners.
Take, for example, the 58-year-old patient: When she came to visit Dr. Wu for treatment, he needled the aforementioned acupuncture points around her left ear, and then he needled the Yu Points and the He Acupuncture Points of the heart pericardium, San Jiao, gallbladder, and liver meridians on her hands and feet, according to the Bagua acupuncture method. He also prescribed some Chinese herbal medicine for her. After six sessions of acupuncture, she began to hear some sounds. After more than 30 treatments, she felt that 70 percent or 80 percent of her hearing was restored, and she could easily hear the sounds of people talking. Of course, not every deaf patient’s treatment can be so smooth, and generally speaking, people who have been deaf for many years are indeed more difficult to treat.
There are also other patients with tinnitus who do not have good results from acupuncture treatment.
Dr. Wu said that in many cases, with additional questions he discovers these patients have nasal allergies and nasal congestion. He then needles their Yingxiang Points to ventilate their noses, and the effect is immediate. It can be seen that the nasal orifices are connected to the ear orifices, and sometimes tinnitus must be treated together with the nose.
Tinnitus patients frequently have stiffness in the back of the neck, subluxation of the cervical vertebrae, and sleep disorders, so when treating tinnitus, these problems must be solved together to improve the effect of tinnitus treatment.
In addition, traditional Chinese medicine practitioners will use Chinese herbal medicine, massage, and diet to bring the internal organs, yin and yang, qi (energy), and blood back into balance, so as to reduce or eliminate tinnitus through the body’s own adjustments.
5 Moves to Improve Tinnitus and Deafness
Regular ear massage can help reduce the symptoms of tinnitus and deafness, and it can also help improve the hearing of people without tinnitus.
- Mastoid process massage
There is a smooth conical projection of bone located behind the ear, and it is the mastoid process. If one ear has tinnitus or is deaf, the muscles in the mastoid area behind that ear will become stiff and tense.
Massaging the mastoid area will be very painful, but if you massage it to loosen it up, the stuffiness in the ear will be cleared.
- Clustered nodule rubbing
When performing clustered nodule rubbing, first palpate the areas behind the ear, just above the ear, and in front of in the hairline, and look for tense clustered nodules or tender points with your fingers. Once found, use your thumb to rub and pluck the nodule horizontally to soften and relax it.
A patient of Dr. Wu had severe hearing loss and was told by a Western medicine practitioner that he might need a hearing aid. When he came to see Dr. Wu, the latter found a tender spot above his right ear, so he plucked the clustered nodule in this tender spot. After the pain subsided, the patient suddenly exclaimed, “Doctor, I can hear your voice relatively clearly now!”
- Helix massage
Using your thumb and index finger to rub the helix from top to bottom, until the auricle becomes red. This can make the circulation of the entire ear better.
You can also use your index and middle fingers in the shape of scissors to rub your ears up and down from below.
- Eardrum massage
There are two ways to massage the eardrums. One is to use your finger to press the tragus and then release it; another is to use your palm to press against the ear canal hole and then release it. Press and release it 36 times as a set. You can do several sets a day.
- Drumming massage
Place the palms of both hands firmly against the ears, and press the index, middle, ring and little fingers horizontally on the back of the head on both sides, with the two middle fingers facing each other. Fold the two index fingers over the middle fingers, then slide them down and strike the back of the head heavily on the occipital area, and you will hear a loud and clear sound like the beating of a drum.
Both index fingers strike 36 times at the same time as a set. You can do several sets a day, regardless of time. This massage method can promote ear circulation.
After finishing these five exercises, there is another important finishing move, which is to press the back of the neck to soften and relax the clustered nodules and tender points on the cervical spine. At this point, your entire head should feel refreshed. And tinnitus will gradually improve if you persist in doing these exercises.