By Dr. Mao Shing Ni
THE CONDITION OF UNWELCOME NOISES IN YOUR EARS, which are often described as buzzing, clicking, whistling, or high-pitched ringing sounds–is called tinnitus, which is the Latin word for ringing. Though not considered a serious or fatal condition, tinnitus does affect quality of life for many people. One in twenty Americans experiences prolonged tinnitus, and its occurrence increases with age.
Causes of tinnitus: it is almost always associated with hearing loss, and although the exact mechanism that produces the sounds is not well known, the sounds aren’t imaginary. The sounds may be intermittent, continuous, or pulsing. Tinnitus can interfere with normal activities and, because it usually is worse in the evenings, it tends to disturb sleep. There are many causes for tinnitus, including a degenerative auditory nerve, ear infections, neurological problems, sensorineural hearing loss, and Meniere’s disease. Many prescription medications and chemotherapy can also cause tinnitus. Hyperacusis is an over-sensitivity to certain sound frequencies and often occurs in combination with tinnitus. Fortunately, with treatment in the form of diet, herbs and acupuncture tinnitus can be substantially reduced or eliminated.
In Chinese medicine, the kidney-bladder network governs hearing and the ears. Tinnitus, then, is often associated with progressive kidney weakness brought on by overstrain, lack of sleep, and excessive sexual activity. Negative emotions are also often associated with tinnitus. Anger, frustration, resentment, and hatred block the liver energy, which over time produces fire rising up to the head, which disrupts hearing.
Diet plays a role as well. Overconsumption of cold and raw foods and dairy products promotes the formation of mucus, causing congestion and preventing proper nourishment of the ears. Digital audio player and cell phone use have contributed to the increased rate of hearing problems.
I had a patient in his fifties who suddenly lost 50 percent of his hearing in one ear and lived with a terrible ringing in both of his ears for several years. He saw many hearing specialists, and all advised him to get a hearing aid. Unconvinced or perhaps unwilling to acknowledge his problems, he came to see me as a last resort. He was a typical type-A personality. He worked sixty hours a week and was constantly traveling by plane for work. He also suffered from chronic sinus allergies. I focused on strengthening his kidney network, which was weakened from the wear and tear of his life, and regulating his emotions to ease stress, while at the same time clearing away mucus blockage. In doing so, I removed the root causes of the condition and allowed his body to heal itself. By using acupuncture and herbal therapy and advising him on appropriate diet and lifestyle–I insisted that he not travel for three months-his hearing has improved and the tinnitus is hardly noticeable. His audiologist is quite happy with the results–and so is he.
Here are some of my recommendations for treatment of tinnitus:
Exercise is important for stimulating blood circulation, reducing cholesterol, and preventing the premature decline of vital energy. I recommend a regular regimen of daily qi gong and tai chi combined with moderate cardiovascular exercise.
I use qi gong exercises with my patients to help maintain good hearing and reduce degeneration. The Liver Cleansing Qi Gong is very useful, as are the Immortal Beating the Heavenly Drum and Immortal Sounding the Heavenly Bell exercises, which can be found on the hearing loss page. Do these exercises daily for optimum results.
• For the Liver Cleansing Qi Gong, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart in front of a tree.
The tree is a receptacle of liver energy and is capable of regenerating itself, much like its ability to absorb toxic carbon dioxide and produce oxygen.
©2015 Dr. Mao Shing Ni
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