By Madeline Sharples
In October 2012 I wrote an article in which I discussed my difficulties in hearing. And in December 2013 I wrote an article about my tinnitus. This article is an update. Hopefully it will give you some options if you are suffering with tinnitus as I am.
My hearing has continued to decline such that I’ve decided to wear two hearing aids instead of one. However, I still think a major factor in my hearing loss is my tinnitus. No matter how you pronounce it, tinnitus is a noise or ringing in the ears. Mine is a low-level roaring like the wind or ocean waves rushing through my ears. Rarely do I hear a high-pitched ringing. But no matter what it sounds like, it is annoying and detrimental to my hearing.
I initially heard there is no cure for tinnitus. Ginkgo bebola, Lipo flavonoid and oily drops in the ears don’t work. I know. I’ve tried them.. However, I was inspired to seek help after a very lengthy discussion on Facebook about a friend’s sisters who both had debilitating tinnitus. That discussion suggested hanging upside down and acupuncture. I decided to pursue both remedies.
But first I went to my audiologist. Since early on he felt that the cause of my tinnitus is my life-long nightly habit of grinding my teeth, he encouraged me to be conscientious about wearing my teeth guard every night, which I had hidden in the back of one of my bathroom vanity drawers. I resumed wearing it, and though it seemed to deter me from grinding but didn’t lesson the tinnitus.
So when I went back and asked him if acupuncture could possibly help, he
referred me to an acupuncturist who studied Chinese medicine at Emperor’s College of Traditional Oriental Medicine and is a National Diplomat in Acupuncture. When I spoke to this Chinese medicine doctor he told me he has had a seventy percent success rate treating his tinnitus patients with acupuncture and herbs. That statistic sold me on giving it a try. I figured his treatment couldn’t make it worse. He also told me in a very lengthy intake interview about my general well-being and health – he likes to treat the whole body – that I would probably need to have weekly acupuncture treatments for three months and take two kinds of herbs twice a day for six months.
This week I’ll have my fourth acupuncture session and my third week of herbs. First a little information about the herbs. The Chinese medicine doctor prescribed two different capsules. One is Easy Qi designed to relax and enhance the free flow of energy, especially through the muscles of the back, shoulders, and neck. That makes sense since it seems that my neck muscles especially impact my tinnitus. The other herb capsule is a ginseng and zizyphus combination that provides relief for those who have difficulty staying asleep. Perfect for me since I’m a very restless sleeper. He also instructed me to take four capsules of each twice a day. However, that regime played havoc on my gut. As a result we lessoned the doses, and I am now gradually working up toward the full dosage with no ill effects.
The acupuncture sessions last from thirty to forty-five minutes with needles in my feet, legs, stomach, the back of my neck and wrists. And during the session the doctor sits with me and we talk. He’s like a therapist, getting me to talk about things I’ve told no one else. Actually at the intake interview based on a questionnaire he sent me in advance of my first appointment, I told him he knows more about me than virtually anyone else. And that doesn’t bother me at all. He’s an interesting young man – a year younger than my surviving son who turns forty this month.
So the sixty-four dollar question is: Is the acupuncture and the herbs routine working?
So far I’ve experienced two very brief incidences of a noise clearing in my ears while I was watching television. Both those times I heard the volume on the TV definitely go up without my touching the controller. The doctor thinks that is progress. I’ve also on occasion heard the noise in only one ear. That could be progress as well. One more thing. One night last week I slept through the night without having to get up once – not even to go the bathroom. With those results happening so soon I’m willing to go on with the whole program. I’ll let you know at the end of six months how it turned out.
Madeline is the author of Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide (Dream of Things) and Blue-Collar Women: Trailblazing Women Take on Men-Only Jobs (New Horizon Press). She co-edits The Great American Poetry Show anthology series and wrote the poetry for The Emerging Goddessphotography book. See more at http://www.MadelineSharples.com