Do you regularly get ringing in your ears that nobody else can hear? If so, you might have tinnitus. We’ve covered tinnitus in detail here, but in short, tinnitus is a chronic condition where people hear noises that aren’t really there over and over again.
There are lots of ways to manage your symptoms, but one you might not have thought of is acupuncture. Here are some details on why acupuncture may be able to help quiet your tinnitus!
Acupuncture for Beginners
Haven’t heard of acupuncture before? That’s okay. Acupuncture is an alternative health practice adapted from Chinese medicine. According to acupuncturists, our wellbeing is determined by the flow of energy through our bodies, known as qi in acupuncture. For us to feel well, our qi must be allowed to flow continuously through specific bodily pathways, known as meridians. Illnesses are caused by these meridians getting blocked. Where the treatment of acupuncture comes in is unblocking those meridians. This is done by sliding long, thin needles into specific points on your body, stimulating it, activating the nervous system and promoting healing. If your doctor indicated that neck tightness may be inflaming your tinnitus, it’s clear that acupuncture can help with this. With such a close focus on the nervous system, acupuncture can be great for loosening up your muscles and helping with stress.
Acupuncture and Your Hearing
Tinnitus is often linked to hearing loss. As we detail in our previous article on tinnitus, if you can solve or alleviate the underlying condition that’s causing your tinnitus, you can lessen your tinnitus symptoms. So can acupuncture help your hearing loss, and if so, can it help your tinnitus?
The answer from medical and scientific professionals is ‘maybe’. All the research produced so far has small sample sizes, meaning it may not work outside very limited slices of the population. However, one study, in particular, found acupuncture to be highly effective for sudden hearing loss. Over 63% of participants found that acupuncture improved their hearing health. Meanwhile, another study conducted in February 2015 found that acupuncture did help with a certain kind of hearing loss. While more research is needed to confirm this, it seems that acupuncture could help your hearing loss, and therefore help your tinnitus.
Acupuncture and Tinnitus
Now you may be wondering how acupuncture impacts tinnitus directly. Will it actually soothe your symptoms? So far, the research available is sparse. While there have been studies looking at acupuncture and tinnitus directly, a 2016 look at the data concluded that the sample sizes were too small to get accurate data from. This is on the up, though.
A 2018 study found that acupuncture did improve symptoms of adults with tinnitus. There’s also no evidence to suggest that acupuncture is bad for you. One thing that acupuncture has been proven to greatly improve is stress. What makes tinnitus worse, among other things, is chronic stress. Like essential oils, which we cover in detail here, undergoing alternative health treatments like acupuncture can relieve anxiety and help you relax. As such, acupuncture, depending on the underlying causes of your tinnitus, can really help your symptoms.
Trying Out Acupuncture
If you think focusing on acupuncture points for tinnitus relief would help you, all the signs point to it being worthwhile. It’s definitely worth at least giving it a go, and seeing if focusing closely on your nervous system and how your energy flows will help with your tinnitus. Here are a few things you’ll need to take into consideration if you’re planning on doing this.
Firstly, make sure that acupuncture for tinnitus is safe for you. Run it by your doctor before booking an appointment, as acupuncture is not recommended for those who are pregnant, those taking blood thinners or those with a pacemaker. Also, make sure it’s within your budget, as many health insurance plans do not cover acupuncture. Be aware that acupuncture can also cause mild effects in some people, such as tenderness around the acupuncture points used in the session, nausea and dizziness. But as long as you’ve consulted with medical professionals to ensure acupuncture is safe for you, these shouldn’t be too bad.
Once you’ve figured this out, you’re good to go! Make sure you find a licenced acupuncturist who has a proper clinic. Be aware that a licenced acupuncturist is not the same thing as a certified acupuncturist in the US. While doctors, nurses and other medical professionals may have a certificate in acupuncture, earned from a few hundred hours in training, that doesn’t mean they’ll have a lot of experience with patients. Meanwhile, licenced acupuncturists earn their licence from thousands of hours in training, direct experience with patients and taking special licencing exams with the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. You’ll know they’re licenced from the needles they use. In the US, all professional acupuncturists are required to use disposable needles. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine also has a list of licenced acupuncturists you can access online.
So: Does Acupuncture Work?
As you can see, the opinions of medical professionals are mixed. But some recent evidence suggests a bright future for acupuncture and tinnitus. It’s also true that tinnitus is caused by many different underlying conditions. Some of these conditions, like chronic stress and hearing problems, have been proven to be relieved by acupuncture. Therefore, if your tinnitus is caused by hearing problems or chronic stress, it’s likely that acupuncture will help lessen many of your symptoms.
The outlook isn’t one hundred percent certain. But if you have tinnitus, it seems like it’s worth looking into acupuncture for tinnitus. Check with your doctor, and if they’re open to it, ask for their help in finding a licenced acupuncturist in your area. This could be the key to banishing the annoying ringing in your ears once and for all.
- “Can Acupuncture Help with Tinnitus?”, Healthline, accessed 15th March 2021, https://www.healthline.com/health/acupuncture-for-tinnitus.
- “On a Needle-to-Know Basis: Will Acupuncture Help Hearing Loss?”, accessed 15th March 2021, https://pentadocs.com/on-a-needle-to-know-basis-will-acupuncture-help-hearing-loss/.
- “Acupuncture for Hearing Loss & Tinnitus: Does it Really Work?”, accessed 15th March 2021, https://myhearingcenters.com/blog/acupuncture-for-hearing-loss-tinnitus-does-it-really-work/.
- “Tinnitus and acupuncture”, British Tinnitus Association, accessed 15th March 2021, https://www.tinnitus.org.uk/tinnitus-and-acupuncture.