Coatesville residents looking for alternative medicines to treat common health conditions often turn to acupuncture. This ancient Chinese remedy is believed to have healing properties that help patients with a wide variety of ailments. Can it work for hearing loss and tinnitus?
Acupuncture & Healing
What is acupuncture?
Chinese medical practitioners have been using acupuncture as a form of natural healing for centuries. The process involves the insertion of thin needles into the body, along with heat, pressure or laser light, in a carefully orchestrated manner.
How does it work?
Proponents claim that subjecting specific points in the body to needling stimulates the nervous system, causing chemicals and hormones to be released into the muscles, spinal cord and brain to encourage healing. Claims about acupuncture’s ability to help hearing loss and tinnitus sufferers date back to the 1940s, but there is scant evidence about its effectiveness.
Do studies show acupuncture’s effectiveness?
A study in the February 2015 issue of International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine examined the results of a dozen earlier studies to gauge the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture as a treatment for sensorineural hearing loss.
The findings indicated that acupuncture did help improve the hearing of some patients diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss, especially when it was accompanied by treatment with drugs. The study’s authors warned that the study had flaws and additional research was needed because of the following factors:
- The sample size was small
- Safety data was inadequate
- It was impossible to determine whether positive outcomes were the result of acupuncture, medication, the placebo effect or a combination of the three
- Research was conducted in China, where medicine practices are very different
Do other studies support the IJCEM’s findings?
Another Chinese research study on the efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of sudden deafness found that two-thirds of subjects benefited from a “therapeutic effect” after being treated, but like the most current study, there were problems related to the size of the sample and lack of a control group.
And because sudden deafness sometimes resolves on its own, it’s impossible to definitely state that acupuncture was the reason for the patients’ improvement.
What did the BTA find?
Researchers at the British Tinnitus Association didn’t mince words; they looked at research on acupuncture as a treatment for tinnitus and found no evidence showing that it was effective.
Acupuncture might be beneficial in a more roundabout way; the procedure appears to have a calming effect that helps reduce stress and anxiety. This may, in turn, provide relief from tinnitus symptoms. Acupuncture does help reduce pain, and because this can be another tinnitus trigger, patients may benefit in more indirect ways.
What should you do if you have hearing loss or tinnitus symptoms?
While there is no evidence showing that acupuncture offers long-term relief from hearing loss and tinnitus, it shouldn’t cause any harmful effects when used properly. If you are suffering from hearing loss or tinnitus, you’re better off contacting a Coatesville audiologist for a more traditional, medically-proven treatment plan.
Learn More About Tinnitus
Coatesville ENT Office Locations
213 Reeceville Rd #10
Coatesville, PA 19320