by Rafaele Joudry
Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is reported by the
Australian Tinnitus Association to affect some 20% of Australians. In
the age group over 65, it is 30%. Most people that you speak to are
living with, related to, or know someone suffering from this maddening
What Is Tinnitus?
is different for everybody. It may occur in one ear or in both, and
sufferers report many different sounds in their ears, including
humming, ringing, or a high pitched whine like the chirping of
crickets. It can also be experienced at various volumes and pitch, and
can be worse at different times of the day or night. Often sleeping is
a problem, once the daily activities, which distract from the internal
noise, are concluded.
Other symptoms which may
accompany tinnitus are dizziness or vertigo, loss of balance and
nausea. These symptoms may be due to a condition called Meniere’s
Syndrome which is caused by an imbalance of fluid pressure in the inner
What Causes Tinnitus?
most common cause of tinnitus is loud noise. Industrial noise is a very
common cause of both deafness and tinnitus, affecting factory workers
who have been exposed to noise over many years. Military service is
also a common cause of ear problems. Many sufferers report that their
tinnitus began during the war when they worked with guns, tanks or
heavy machinery and in particular aircraft. Ear protection was
unfortunately unheard of in those times. Loud music is another major
cause of tinnitus, and many musicians are plagued by this condition.
living in the country does not provide protection from ear damage.
Farmers commonly suffer ear problems due to hours of exposure to the
noise of tractors and other farm machines. A bang on the head may bring
on tinnitus, and ear problems may also stem from a virus or from
frequent ear infections in childhood. Some medications can cause or
aggravate tinnitus as can some foods.
Drugs to Avoid
following drugs have been shown to potentially cause or worsen
tinnitus. Salicylate analgesics (higher doses of aspirin), naproxen
(Naprosyn, Aleve), Ibuprofen, many other non-steroid
anti-inflammatories, aminoglycoside antibiotics, antidepressants,
loop-inhibiting diuretics, quinine/anti malarials, oral contraceptives
Aspirin - found in Disprin,
Aspro, Ecotrin, Codral, Codcomol, Cartia, Solprin, Paytocil, Rhusal,
Pirophen, SRA, Asparcod, Anacin, Aspec, Codis, Venganin, Alka- Seltzer,
Marijuana usage may worsen a pre-existing case of tinnitus and alcohol may contribute to tinnitus in some people.
Oxotoxic chemicals commonly found in food:
- found in coffee, tea, cola drinks and chocolate. Too much caffeine
for some people can raise blood pressure, cause restlessness,
irritability, muscle twitches and can worsen tinnitus. Experiment with
your caffeine intake to see if it affects your tinnitus.
Quinine - found in tonic water.
- found in many diet foods including Diet Coke. Brand names for
aspartame are NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful and Equal-Measure.
is a vaso-constrictor, meaning it raises blood pressure. It can also
directly affect the nerves, causing neuralgia (pain) or spontaneous
nerve impusles which can result in worsening of tinnitus.
medical profession is generally baffled by tinnitus, not knowing what
causes it or how to treat it. Drugs are sometimes prescribed but are
only suitable for a small number of people. In extreme cases people
have had the auditory nerve severed and hearing is lost entirely.
However, it has been known for this procedure to be done and, despite
the patient becoming deaf, the tinnitus still prevails. Many doctors
now believe this indicates that although tinnitus originates in the ear
it becomes perpetuated as a feedback mechanism by the limbic system in
ago, before tinnitus was a well known and recognised condition,
sufferers were told, “It’s all in your head” Although it is now
acknowledged that tinnitus is a very real condition, the specialists
are concluding that the cause and the treatment are psychophysical
rather than physical. The current treatment favoured by specialist
audiologists is tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT), a lengthy
re-education program which teaches the subject to change their reaction
to the tinnitus and thereby reduce its impact on their consciousness.
Many people find this therapy extremely helpful in allowing them to
adjust to or reduce their tinnitus.
very different alternative was pioneered by the French ear specialist,
Dr Alfred Tomatis, who invented a therapeutic listening program using
specially filtered classical music. Sound Therapy provides exercise for
the tiny muscles in the middle ear, improving the functioning of the
ear mechanism, and has been found to relieve or eliminate tinnitus in
many cases. It also often helps mild hearing loss, dizziness and
sensations of blocking or fullness in the ear.
believe that most tinnitus is caused by damage to the tiny hair cells
called ‘cilia’ in the inner ear. When they are damaged they lie flat,
and in touching each other they ‘short circuit’ and create a phantom
noise. The Sound Therapy program trains the ear to open and respond to
gentle high frequencies so that these therapeutic sounds can reach the
inner ear. These sounds stimulate the damaged hair cells to become
erect again, improving hearing and usually providing relief for
tinnitus. Sound Therapy is a self-help program which can be used by
anyone in their own home. A full and fascinating description of this
therapy is given in my latest book, Sound Therapy: Music to Recharge
We have been treating tinnitus for
twelve years now in Australia with results ranging from partial to
complete relief for sufferers. Our treatment is a safe method which is
affordable and enjoyable. Our clients have achieved results where they
were told that ho hope existed. I am currently working on a new book
abut tinnitus which will cover a wide range of natural approaches to
naturopath will look at the whole system to determine where an
imbalance may be contributing to the symptom of tinnitus, and look for
a specific formula to address that imbalance. Tinnitus could be due to
a digestive problem, which may include poor pancreatic function.
Therefore, a digestive enzyme that would support the pancreas may be in
order. If it is an acid condition where there is a lot of mucus present
in the body, then the patient may just need a general detox. A bowel
disorder indicates toxicity which is coming back into the system and
needs to be cleared, and could perhaps be treated with a herbal
formula. Naturopaths may also use minerals to help in the bowel
cleansing, and they may use homeopathic or nutrient formulas.
radical damage to the hearing apparatus can be caused by noise
exposure, and for this a naturopath would recommend antioxidants. A
powerful formula that includes herbs which promote circulation is often
beneficial to improving general ear function.
the tinnitus is due to industrial ear damage rather than systemic
imbalances, some naturopaths would recommend Sound Therapy, and say
that around 70-80% usually get a positive result.
Chinese medical practitioner will want first to determine whether the
tinnitus is due to an excess type or deficiency type of imbalance. For
example, excessive types may exhibit the rising of liver fire - which
is a way of describing a condition such as hypertension, pre-eclampsia
or emotional irritability. Another description might be phlegm-fire,
which again is an excess condition involved in inflammation.
deficiency types are from kidney essence deficiency which has to do
with old age or excess pf sexual activity, possibly tied up with
excessive use of drugs. Also poor diet will cause a deficiency of the
Chi, resulting in conditions that are connected to the heart such as
emotional conditions. Depending on whether the tinnitus is damp or wind
type tinnitus, kidney, heart or liver tinnitus, the practitioner will
then treat this imbalance with acupuncture or Chinese herbs.
work will help if the tinnitus is caused by neck tension or structural
damage due to injury stress or bad habits of posture and movement. It
can be occupational, or it can be due to damage that has been done
through being traumatised earlier in life, like being born with forceps
delivery. To recover from this type of ingrained physical tension may
take some time but it is usually possible through a powerful and
sensitive form of bodywork such as the Alexander Technique,
Feldenkrais, Cranial Osteopathy, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Osteopathy or
working with a skilled massage therapist.
How to We Avoid Tinnitus?
that tinnitus is receiving more publicity and with the onslaught of
environmental pollutants and chemical overload, many fear that it is
becoming an epidemic. This raises the question, how can we avoid
developing tinnitus? Here are a few tips for prevention:
your family’s ears from loud noise. Use cotton wool, ear plugs or
muffs, or your hands when in noisy places. Never expose babies to loud
noise. They are too young to tell that it is hurting them.
Play music or TV quietly.
If the music at the dance is too loud, ask the DJ to turn it down.
Manage stress. Learn yoga or meditation, learn to relax.
a quality mineral supplement - preferably colloidal minerals - to
provide the ears with their basic requirements. The ears are very
nutrient rich and require minerals such as calcium, magnesium,
potassium and phosphorus.
Protect your ears
against free radical damage with high quality, long lasting
antioxidants. Besides vitamins A, C and E, find a supplement which
includes second and third generation antioxidants such as gingko
biloba, turmeric, pine bark and grape seed extract.
Avoid medication that may trigger tinnitus.
Use Sound Therapy to stimulate the cilia and strengthen the middle ear muscles.
much as possible, avoid long-term exposure to low frequency noise such
as refrigerators, air conditioners, computers, traffic, tractors,
aircraft and industrial noise.
Listen to natural
sounds in the upper frequency range, for example, birds, frogs, running
water, the wind in the trees. These sounds calm the nervous system.
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