Tinnitus is a condition, a symptom really, that you’ve probably not heard of unless you’ve experienced it first-hand. You have most likely heard the phrase ringing in the ears, which is the phrase commonly used to refer to this condition. It is a non-auditory sound that occurs internally, meaning only the individual with the condition can hear the noise.
While it is a term used to describe ringing in the ears, it can include to other sounds as well comprising hissing, buzzing, clicking and roaring. The noise can range in severity, duration, pitch, and may lead to serious interruptions in common daily activities.
The development of tinnitus according to the conventional medical community is that potentially something more serious is going on with the sufferers auditory system or nervous system.
The Auditory System
The auditory system is a sensory system which includes three segments of the ear; outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. Within those segments include anatomical structures are potentially contributing to tinnitus which are the auditory nerve, the organ of Corti, and the auditory cortex of the brain among others.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a very common occurrence, affecting roughly 50 million American adults. For most people it is an annoying presence, and often can seriously interrupt activities of daily living, sleep and can lead to poor concentration, cognition and other issues.
Causes of tinnitus range greatly from blockages to exposure to loud noises, including:
- Noise-Induced Hearing Loss: The most common cause of tinnitus is prolonged exposure to loud sounds. Nearly 90% of people with tinnitus have developed it as a result of noise-induced hearing loss. This form of noise results in permanent damage to cells within the cochlea, an organ of the inner ear.
- Blockages: The ear can become blocked from a buildup of ear wax or ear infections. This cause of tinnitus will most often resolve when the issue resolves. On rare occasions the auditory nerve, the nerve that enables hearing, may develop a benign tumor creating a blockage.
- Otosclerosis: This is a disease that results in the small bones of the inner ear becoming stiff.
- Meniere’s Disease: A condition that occurs in the inner ear with largely unknown causes. It leads to an abnormal amount of fluid buildup in the inner ear and can lead to tinnitus, along with other conditions like vertigo.
- Some Medications: There are roughly 200 prescription and over the counter drugs that cite tinnitus as a potential side effect. Asprin is one of the most common drugs that lead to tinnitus along with loop diuretics, antidepressants, anti-inflammatories, many antibiotics, and quinine medications.
- Medical Conditions: There are a few pre-existing medical conditions that can create a ringing in the ears. High blood pressure can lead to tinnitus if not controlled and allowed to get dangerously high. This is often an indicator that the individual should quickly seek medical advice on their hypertension. Anemia can cause tinnitus because the condition causes excess blood in the jugular vein making the heart pump harder. Other conditions include diabetes, allergies, thyroid conditions, cardiovascular disease, and some autoimmune conditions.
- Injuries: Some unexpected injuries of the head and neck, or chronic conditions like TMJ (temporomandibular joint) can cause ringing in the ears.
- Natural Aging: As we age the cochlea and parts of the inner ear can begin to deteriorate leading to hearing loss and tinnitus.
Some activities can cause existing tinnitus conditions to worsen including smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and excessive caffeine. Significant amounts of stress or fatigue have also been associated with an increase in tinnitus symptoms.
At Risk Population
The primary population at risk for tinnitus are those who are exposed to loud noises on a regular basis. This is typically associated with their jobs like construction workers, professional musicians, and factory workers.
Some activities can put people at risk for tinnitus. Motorcycle riders, especially those who use a motorcycle as their primary means of transportation, put themselves at an increased risk of developing tinnitus.
People with chronic health conditions like hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and certain medications are at risk for developing tinnitus. Unfortunately, these conditions are common among the elderly, who are already at risk for tinnitus due to the aging processes of the inner ear.
Prognosis – Can You Cure Tinnitus?
In some cases tinnitus will go away after the underlying condition is remedied, but it most often continues after the condition has been resolved. For those instances where tinnitus continues after the cause has been resolved there are conventional and alternative means to bring relief to the chronic noise being experienced.
Tinnitus can be controlled through a variety of treatments. You will likely require a combination of interventions to reduce tinnitus in both severity and duration. While the ringing can resolve you are likely to have it reoccur if you have a history of the condition.
The term cure cannot be used in conjunction with tinnitus, but it is altogether possible to reach a state of normalcy while having this condition. In today’s health climate there exists a wide variety of treatments in both conventional and alternative medicine. It is not uncommon for a combination of both may be required.
When to see a specialist?
The reality is, many people live with tinnitus unknowingly. They assume the ringing is normal or just resolve to live their lives with this annoyance assuming there are no treatment options or the damage they’ve done is irreversible.
If you’ve attempted simple interventions that can be done on your own at home like stopping certain medications (with clearance from your prescribing doctor), removed earwax, or reduced stress and have yet to achieve any level of adequate relief, it may be time to consider alternative medicine, such as Craniosacral Therapy.
What can you do about tinnitus?
Alternative medicine is seeing significant improvements in tinnitus symptoms, but there are a few conventional approaches that deserve a mention as well.
- Stress Reduction: A treatment approach you can start immediately, reduce stress in your life. Tinnitus may be an indicator that you are over extended in one or many areas of life. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was developed as a treatment for chronic pain, but was also successful at reducing tinnitus.
- Exercise: Tinnitus that is caused or exacerbated by stress, anxiety, depression, illness, or fatigue may be mitigated by integrating an exercise routine into your health regimen. Exercise is recommended for overall health and wellbeing and is associated with better sleep and reduced stress.
- TMJ Treatment: Tinnitus caused by TMJ, a condition of the jaw, can be reduced through adequate TMJ treatment.
- Hearing Aids: Tinnitus that develops as a result of hearing loss may be mitigated through the use of a hearing aid. This is primarily because hearing aids improve your overall hearing ability making you less likely to notice any ringing. A survey looking at individuals with tinnitus found that 60 percent had some relief with hearing aids and 22 percent experienced significant
- Sound Therapy: This is a broad term that is used to describe the use of external controlled sound as a means of altering the patient’s perception to the tinnitus noise. It is not a cure, but can significantly reduce the amount of noise perceived by the patient. There are four primary approaches –
- Masking – The patient is exposed to an external noise that is loud enough to either partially or completely cover up the tinnitus sound.
- Neuromodulation – When neural hyperactivity is thought to be the underlying cause this approach can be used to introduce specialized sounds as a means of minimizing the hyperactivity.
- Habituation – This approach may take some time, but is effective. It is used to guide the patient’s brain in reclassifying the tinnitus sounds as insignificant which should be ignored.
- Distraction – This approach is a lot like Masking by using external sound, but as a means of diverting the patient’s attention from the sound rather than covering it up completely.
- Progressive Tinnitus Management: PTM is a treatment option provided by the US Department of Veterans affairs. They offer this program because tinnitus is a common disability among veterans due to loud noises they were exposed to in war and training.
- Removing Obstructions / Blockages: Mild cases of tinnitus caused by a buildup of earwax may be able to be corrected by removing the blockage. Other obstructions can be investigated and corrected by Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialists.
Many conventional methods of treating tinnitus exist, but alternative medicine is seeing a significant increase in treatment options as well as success rates. It is not uncommon to require one or more of these alternative treatment methods to reduce or correct tinnitus symptoms.
- Craniosacral Therapy: The skull is made of 22 bones which are able to be moved and manipulated. Because of this movement, misalignment in these bones can cause restriction in the natural flow of the brain produced cerebrospinal fluid leading to tinnitus, among other more serious health conditions. This method requires the practitioner to lightly touch and hold the skull and sacrum to gently manipulate the bones clearing up blockages and allowing the fluid to flow more freely.
These restrictions of the cerebrospinal fluid causes the nervous system to not operate at the most efficient level. When the nervous system is restricted it can cause the body to go into a highly stressed state, which exacerbates tinnitus symptoms.
When your body is under excessive stress it will enter a fight or flight state which can lead to tinnitus development. If this is the cause of your tinnitus, Craniosacral Therapy is effective at taking you out of the heightened adrenal state and thereby reduce your tinnitus.
For tinnitus that is a result of neck, jaw, and shoulder tension or issues, Craniosacral Therapy can be an effective treatment. The tension that is held in these areas can cause this annoying ringing and a few sessions of Craniosacral Therapy can teach you to redirect your focus away from the noise to allow your nervous system to settle down. Once the nervous system is calm the auditory system will follow suit and quiet down.
Most people who suffer with chronic tinnitus will need to undergo at least five or six sessions of Craniosacral Therapy to reach a homeostatic state. Once you’re out of the hypervigilant state areas of your body that were numb to feeling will begin to openly receive cerebrospinal fluid, blood, oxygen, and as a result less chaos and noise.
For many practitioners who utilize Craniosacral Therapy for tinnitus treatment will follow a simple plan of care and goals:
- Initial consult to receive guidance, reassurance, and help develop a positive state of mind
- Craniosacral Therapy sessions
- Quieten down the nervous system
- Come out of the fight or flight mode
- Discover a calming state or place to allow tinnitus to temper
- Develop internal security
- Acquire coping techniques and strategies
- Understanding your stressors or fears and ways to manage those
- Achieve peace and a resolution to your tinnitus concerns
- Pranic Healing: This form of treatment is also known as “Energy Healing,” and is done without touching. It can be beneficial in treating tinnitus as it is based on the fundamental idea that the body is able to heal itself. Pranic Healing is a three step process where energy imbalances are checked, removed, and universal energy is replenished. This form of treatment for tinnitus is thought to work by removing energy imbalances that create infrequent and abnormal brain wave activity which can result in inaudible noise.
For many practitioners utilizing Pranic Healing as a means of tinnitus treatment will follow a simple plan of care and goals:
- Initial consult where patients will discuss their concerns and work with the practitioner to develop a plan of care inclusive of length and duration.
- The patient will need to remove all objects that are close to the ears including glasses, earrings, necklaces, hair clips, and hearing aids.
- The practitioner will have to invoke a scan throughout each session; before, during, and after
- They will then conduct a general sweeping of the body
- Isolating the area of issue from other parts of the head is important and will require visualizing either blue or light greenish blue tubes of light, depending on severity. They will then move through the process of projecting various energies through the ears to improve blood circulation, cleanse the energy, and conduct general cleansing.
- There are approximately 15 steps to cleansing and replacing the energy which will take about ten sessions to complete at a twice a week rate, on average.
- Acupuncture: A technique used to bring healing or balance by accessing specific anatomical locations in the body, referred to as meridians. It is based on the belief that these areas are where the force of life, or Qi, flowed in the body. Thing needles are inserted into these points to stimulate the Qi based on the specific issue; tinnitus.
To address tinnitus through acupuncture the practitioner will typically stimulate 12 specific points; Ermen (TB21), Tinggong (SI19), Tinghui (GB2), Shangguan (GB3), Yindu (KI19), Taixi (KI3), Fengchi (GB20), Yifeng (SJ17), Zhongzhu (SJ3), Waiguan (SJ5), Hegu (LI4), Yanglao (SI6).
A 2018 study concluded that acupuncture can improve the severity and duration of tinnitus. While acupuncture is not able to cure tinnitus or force it to go dormant it is able to significantly reduce the sound. This is a viable option for anyone suffering from mild tinnitus that has little effect on quality of life.
- Homeopathic Remedies: Homeopathy is a gentle way to treat conditions and illnesses. This field of alternative medicine uses supplements and remedies made from nanoparticles of extracted substances from minerals, plants, and at times animals.
There are four primary homeopathic remedies and seven lesser used remedies to treat tinnitus.
- Calcarea carbonica: This remedy is used for tinnitus associated with vertigo. It is usually reserved for patients who present with fatigue, chills, sugar cravings, and anxiety.
- Graphites: Tinitus associated with deafness has seen improvements with this homeopathic formulation. Sufferers who see the best results are those who also experience poor concentration, cracked skin, and constipation.
- Chininum sulphuricum: The person who benefits most from this remedy experiences buzzing and roaring in the ear to an extent that hearing impairment is possible. They also typically have vertigo and chills that seems to enhance the tinnitus.
- Lycopodium: Those who benefit from this remedy state they hear a humming or roaring accompanied by an echo of external sounds. These individuals have a higher rate of ear infections, digestive and urinary tract issues.
- Others: Carbo vegetabilis, China, Cimicifuga, Coffea cruda, Natrum salicylicum, Sallyclicum acidum, and Kali carbonicum.
- Nutritional Supplements: There is a strong link between diet and tinnitus. Those more likely to suffer tend to have low intake of B2, B3, protein, and adequate hydration along with other deficiencies. While it is ideal to take in nutrition from food, this is not always possible and nutritional supplements can be beneficial.
- Lipo-Flavonoid is an over-the-counter supplement formulated with B3, B6, B12, and vitamin C along with a proprietary blend that contains the flavonoid, eriodictyol glycoside. This flavonoid is a phytonutrient found in lemon peels and the supplement as a whole has been found effective in treating some forms of tinnitus. It will not cure the condition, but it may decrease the level of noise experienced by the tinnitus sufferer.
- Other supplements: It may be beneficial for anyone living with tinnitus to review their diet or even have their vitamin and mineral levels checked to determine areas of deficiency that could be exacerbating or causing their symptoms. Individuals who have done this and implementing supplements into their tinnitus care regimen have seen improvements from the following: iron, B6, B12, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, potassium and phosphorus.
It is likely that you or someone you know is living life with tinnitus, possibly without even realizing it is occurring. Once you have realized and come to terms with your diagnosis you can begin researching the various methods of treating or mitigating your symptoms. It is possible that more than one approach may be needed to effectively tackle your tinnitus symptoms. Diet, exercise, hydration, craniosacral therapy, pranic healing, and nutritional supplements are all beneficial practices to start for even the healthiest of individuals, but when combined could make your tinnitus symptoms go dormant.
Anyone living with tinnitus should take courage at the advancements in diagnosis and treatment options available. Once you have worked with your healthcare provider to determine the cause of the ringing you have several routes to improve your quality of life. It is a frustrating condition to say the least, but it is possible to find relief and return to a normal life.
About Dr. Kaminsky & Craniosacral Therapy
Dr. Kaminsky is a 1999 graduate of the University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic. He is licensed to practice in NY and has completed close to three thousand hours of professional continuing education since becoming licensed in March of 2000.
The primary approach used in his office is Craniosacral Therapy (CST) which is a method focusing on the cranium (head) and sacrum (a large bone at the base of the spine) scientifically proven to control life sustaining fluid flow throughout the body.
Craniosacral Therapy is a gentle, non-invasive, hands-on manual therapy approach that brings about healing via the fluidity of the body. The existence of the Craniosacral System was first discovered by Osteopath Dr. William Sutherland in the early 1900’s, calling it Cranial Osteopathy. And later rediscovered, validated, and developed by Dr. John Upledger in the late 70’s early 80’s, who renamed it Craniosacral Therapy after doing five years of research at the Michigan State University, School of Medicine. In 1983 Dr. John, as he was fondly called, established a teaching institute in Palm Beach, Florida, to teach this cranial sacral method to all healthcare providers. The Upledger Institute is still very active today.
The craniosacral mechanism pumps fluid which is produced in the brain, called cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF), through the fascial network of the body, the purpose of which is to lubricate joints, muscles, organs, all cells and all tissues. It is the driving life force for your body’s systems to function properly, CSF also carries healing properties to bodily traumas, injuries and past surgeries.
The proper function of your cranial sacral mechanism, via CSF flow, maintains the normal tone of your muscles, provide nutrients to your organs, and keeps you out of pain. It sustains human life and allows your nervous system to stay responsive to challenges of daily living and your mind-body life experiences. The better your craniosacral mechanism functions, the better the flow of this life sustaining fluid, the better your body can handle physical and emotional stress. The uninhibited flow of this fluid throughout your body allows you to thrive, opposite of survival mode.
CSF is part of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) brain and spinal cord), which is physically encapsulated within the dural membranes of the spine and head.
One of the functions inside of your brain is to automatically generate energetic rhythmic impulses that function to pump CSF throughout your body, regulating your peripheral nerves, nervous system and organ systems, which in turn, sustain your function (physiology) and life. It is an important force that maintains everything functioning in your body. This is what we call the Craniosacral System, or Craniosacral Mechanism. It is the hydraulic, energetic and rejuvenating system of your body.
This measurable life force of moving fluid is palpable to a trained craniosacral therapist, like the heart rhythm, pulse rhythm, breathing rate, that can all be felt, so too can the Cranial Sacral Rhythm (CSR) be palpated and measured. It is the foundational diagnostic tool in real-time used to evaluate your current state of well-being (or lack thereof), and potential for health improvement and healing.
Compromises of your rhythmic impulse, correlates to CSF flow restrictions in the system which the body is unable to self-correct or overcome on its own. This is the reason why over time we develop pain, dis-ease, symptoms, conditions, mind-body disconnect and basically all human physical and psychological ailments.
When the fluid isn’t flowing optimally, your bodily rejuvenation is affected, and this is where the skill of an experienced craniosacral therapist becomes valuable. By placing his or her hands on your body, most commonly on your head and sacrum, for diagnostic purposes, the practitioner can detect, feel, evaluate, and rate the SSQAR (strength, symmetry, quality, amplitude, rate) of the rhythm; then bring forth correction of any limitations with subsequent experienced hand placements on different parts the body during a session.
A craniosacral therapist helps your rhythm reset, restore and renew allowing for healing to take place of the mind-body connection, musculoskeletal tightness and spasms, neurological deficits, autoimmune issues, organ function, many common conditions, and of course pain. Through a practitioners properly focused and attuned touch, your body is facilitated to release channels of fluid stagnation and flow restriction, which ultimately breakthrough, overcome and improve CSR and the function of vital fluid flow.
Dr. Alex Kaminsky is an advanced practitioner of Craniosacral therapy, having studied up to advanced levels including SER and pediatric courses. He has built a solid foundation with many years of experience, treating babies, children and adults.
To learn more, visit the other pages on this website. Call to schedule your appointment with Dr. Kaminsky.