To those who have never experienced tinnitus, hearing noises of various kinds, it is looked upon as a mere annoyance. But to sufferers of this affliction, it often produces anxiety, stress, and sleeplessness, may interfere with memory and concentration, and can impair hearing at certain frequencies.
Tinnitus may sound like intermittent or continuous ringing, buzzing, hissing, beeping, clicking, pulsing, chirping, roaring or whistling. Less common are pain in the ear or the feeling of fullness in the ear.
There is no one cause for tinnitus. As a consequence, unless a specific cause is identified (which often is difficult) and treated with a targeted solution, treatment results are not predictable.
Acupuncture’s Role in Treating Tinnitus
Acupuncture influences multiple bodily systems and organs simultaneously, which gives it an advantage over Western medicine in treating tinnitus. The efficacy of acupuncture in treating tinnitus, which may result in lessening the noises or even eliminating them, usually can be assessed in ten to fifteen treatments.
Controlled Studies of Acupuncture in Treating Tinnitus
Controlled studies (Tan 2007, Okada 2006, Azevedo 2007, Jackson 2006, Lee 2009, Cheng 2009, Zhou 2008, Kavoussi 2007, Zijlstra 2003, Komori 2009) have shown acupuncture to be an effective treatment and more successful than Western treatments for a number of these patients.
To illustrate one specific study, a Brazilian study followed 76 patients (Okada DM et al. Acupuncture for tinnitus immediate relief [Portuguese]. Revista Brasileira de Otorrinolaringologia 2006. 72: 182-6). The study compared real acupuncture with sham acupuncture and evaluated results using a standard scoring system (Visual Analogue Scale). Based on VAS scoring as well as the patients’ subjective sense of their suffering before and after the study, the researchers concluded that there was real and significant reduction in tinnitus treated with acupuncture.
Safety of Acupuncture
As contrasted with many Western forms of treatment for tinnitus, acupuncture has a well-established safety record.