Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is the most common type of hearing loss and can be caused by a number of things- aging, illness and infection, physical damage to the ear, even exposure to loud music or explosions can all be responsible for this type of hearing loss. These all cause damage to the inner ear, the nerve connects the ear to the brain that allows us to hear and carry signals to the brain- when these tiny nerves are damaged that pathway is broken, causing hearing loss. There are currently not many medications or surgeries that can improve this type of hearing loss – the only ‘treatment’ is often the use of a hearing device. This type of hearing loss can also cause tinnitus, a consistent buzzing or ringing in the ears, usually worsened with silence.

We have a patient who is experiencing sudden SNHL, she woke up one morning a few months ago with diminished hearing in her left ear. After a few weeks of muffled and impaired hearing the patient began experiencing constant low pitched buzzing tinnitus. She tried allergy medications, steroids and even a cortisone shot in her ear and had an MRI to rule out any physical impairments. All attempts had no effect on the tinnitus or hearing loss.

We needled locally around the affected ear and ran the estim’s electrical current around the ear to help promote the regeneration and repair of nervous tissue. In subsequent treatments we included the use of moxibustion which the patient responded very well to- with this modality we were able to decrease swelling and fluid accumulation in the inner ear.

After her first treatment the intensity of her tinnitus reduced only about 15%, however after the moxa was applied we were able to get the tinnitus to reduce to about 45%. She came in ranking the tinnitus as a 7/10 and after her fourth treatment, she had said the intensity dropped to a 4/10. The tinnitus became less persistent even in quiet rooms and had reduced to a humming rather than a buzzing. With her consistent treatments she is continually improving with every visit.

-Anna Craddock, Student of Acupuncture

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