Tinnitus is a perception of sound in the ear which does not originate from the external environment, from within the body, or from hallucinations. As many as 18% of the general population living in industrialized countries suffer from this condition, with 0.5% of patients reporting that tinnitus has a major effect on their ability to lead a normal and healthy life.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is commonly characterized as a ringing in the ear, and does not have any exact cause. The condition is usually caused by inner ear damage. However, it can also be the result of an infection in the ear, a perforated eardrum, or simply a large build-up of earwax. The condition is often presented with hearing loss, and can persist for many years in some cases. It can lead to other conditions, such as insomnia, lack of focus, and even depression in some patients.
Can Acupuncture Help?
In 2000, a systematic review concluded that so far, research had not demonstrated that acupuncture was an effective treatment for tinnitus. However, some of the studies included in the review used questionable controls, inadequate acupuncture treatments, and many were designed in a cross-over manner that is generally seen as inadequate for evaluating the effectiveness of acupuncture. So, more recent controlled trials carried out since this review have all found that acupuncture can be a source of successful relief from tinnitus, with one study even finding this ancient holistic health technique more effective than traditional Western medicine.
How Acupuncture Can Relieve Tinnitus:
Acupuncture is effective for relieving the symptoms of tinnitus in several different ways. Firstly, it can help to provide relief by acting on the cochlea, and particularly on the contractile activity of the outer hair cells. In addition, acupuncture treatments can also work on the efferent olivocochlear system in the ear; in turn, this will help to suppress any optoacoustic emissions. Acupuncture is also well-known for its ability to reduce inflammation; this is often a common cause of tinnitus and reducing inflammation in and around the ear can help to quickly relieve symptoms. It can also increase local microcirculation, which can help to reduce swelling and inflammation further. Finally, acupuncture can help to relieve the symptoms of tinnitus by altering the brain’s chemistry to increase and reduce the levels of certain neurotransmitters.
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