Hearing disorders affect nearly 30 million people in the United States. In addition to causing problems with hearing, some hearing disorders can also cause other problems, especially difficulty maintaining balance and proper equilibrium. Hearing disorders affect people from all age groups. According to research, the loss of hearing commonly associated with old age is now occurring among a considerable portion of the overall U.S. population. Sixty percent of men and women in their late teens and early 20s, for example, have been found with a diminished capacity to hear sounds in the upper frequency range, a statistic that was unheard of just a few generations ago. Practitioners of holistic and alternative medicine attribute the increase in hearing disorders in the U.S. and other industrialized countries to various aspects of our modern lifestyle, such as the excessive use of pharmaceutical drugs, food allergies, environmental toxins, and modern technologies such as earphones, iPods, etc.
Types of Hearing Disorders
Symptoms of hearing disorders vary according to the nature of the disorder, but can include earache, ear pain, inflammation of or stuffiness inside the ear, and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Other symptoms include balance problems such as dizziness and vertigo, hearing loss, and nerve damage within the ears. What follow are overviews of the most common types of hearing disorders as well as their specific symptoms.
Ear pain, also known as earache, is characterized by pain in the middle ear, usually due to fluid or wax buildup and their resulting pressure that impinges upon the Eustachian tube. Narrowing of the Eustachian tube can eventually hinder the proper flow of ear fluid, setting the stage for bacterial infection. When infection occurs it can lead to a temporary condition of diminished hearing, as well as additional ear pain and fever.
There are two types of hearing loss—conductive and sensory. Conductive hearing loss is associated with a loss of hearing in the outer and/or middle ear, while sensory hearing loss is due to problems in the inner hear, particularly damage to or deterioration of the cochlea or the loss of cells in the inner air that transmit sound to the nerves of the ear. Both types of hearing loss can be sudden or develop over time. In some cases, conductive hearing loss can also be recurring, usually due to chronic ear infections or trauma.
Caution: All forms of hearing loss require immediate medical attention.
Meniere’s disease is a serious hearing disorder characterized by balance problems, dizziness, vertigo, and in many cases partial hearing loss. Meniere’s Disease is known to also cause nausea, vomiting, and sudden, sometimes violent, flare-ups of symptoms that can last from five or ten minutes to several hours. Hearing is lost following each attack; it returns, but a little less every time. As this pattern continues, episodes of Meniere’s disease tend to be less frequent and can cease altogether once the loss of hearing is complete.
Otitis media, the number one cause of hearing loss among children, affects the middle ear. Each year in the United States, $2 billion is spent on drug treatments and surgery for otitis media, which unfortunately never addresses the root causes of the condition. The primary surgery for otitis media, which is administered to one million children in the U.S. each year, involves inserting tubes through the tympanic membranes of the ears to improve drainage of ear fluid. Not only does this procedure often not work, it can also significantly increase the risk of ear infections, leading to a worsening of hearing problems and the need for additional surgeries and/or antibiotic drugs.
Symptoms often include earache, ear pain, and impaired hearing, as well as allergy, chills, fever, infection of the upper respiratory tract, irritability, and swelling and inflammation of the middle ear and eardrum. Otitis media can either be acute or chronic.
Caution: Left untreated, cases of chronic otitis media related to infection of the middle ear can lead to meningitis, a dangerous health condition that affects the membranes of the brain and spinal cord.
Tinnitus is a hearing disorder that is primarily characterized by continuous ringing and/or hissing sounds in the ear that can sometimes be accompanied by earache or ear pain. In some cases, dizziness and vertigo can also occur.
Here are some of the main symptoms of hearing loss:
- Muffled hearing.
- Difficulty understanding what those around you are saying, especially when there are other voices or background noise. You may be able to hear someone speaking, but you cannot distinguish the specific words. In fact, many people with hearing loss aren’t aware they have it
- Listening to the television or radio at higher volume than in the past.
- Avoiding conversation and social interaction. Social situations can be tiring and stressful if you do not hear well. You may begin to avoid those situations as hearing becomes more difficult.
- Depression. Many adults may be depressed because of how hearing loss is affecting their social life.
Other symptoms that may occur with hearing loss include:
- Ringing, roaring, hissing, or buzzing in the ear (tinnitus)
- Ear pain, itching or irritation
- Pus or fluid leaking from the ear, which may result from an injury or infection that is causing hearing loss
Among the most common causes of hearing disorders are allergies, antibiotic and other drug use, the buildup of earwax, infection and inflammation, and chronic exposure to loud noises.
Both food and environmental sensitivities can cause or exacerbate hearing disorders, and are especially connected to the increased incidence of otitis media over the last few decades. Common foods that can trigger allergenic responses include milk and dairy products, corn, chocolate, sugar, wheat and wheat byproducts; whereas common environmental triggers include animal dander, dust, and mold, especially in the bedroom. Other allergy related conditions, such as asthma, eczema, hay fever, and hives, may also be associated with hearing disorders. Allergenic substances negatively impact the ear by increasing the risk of infection and causing swelling and inflammation.
Antibiotics and Other Drugs
The overuse of antibiotics and other drugs is also associated with the rise of hearing disorders. This is particularly true of otitis media, which is commonly treated with antibiotics prescribed by conventional physicians. In fact, over 40 percent of all antibiotic prescriptions for children in the U.S. are made in order to treat otitis media. However, research has found that, while antibiotics can be necessary for a few cases of otitis media, nearly 90 percent of antibiotic use is unwarranted. In addition, the use of antibiotics for otitis media has been shown to increase the incidence and frequency of recurring otitis media episodes.
Similar negative side effects have been shown to occur in children who are prescribed antibiotics for chronic earache and ear pain. Not only have antibiotics been found to be no better than placebo for treating ear pain in children, they have also been shown to increase the risk of the excessive ear fluid that is associated with recurring episodes of earache, as well as ear infections.
The late William Crook, MD, author of The Yeast Connection, also found that antibiotic use leads to candidiasis (systemic yeast overgrowth) and suppresses the immune system. As a result, a vicious cycle is set up in which antibiotics used to treat ear and hearing conditions leads to immune suppression and candidiasis, which in turn leads to further bouts of hearing disorders.
Alternative and holistic physicians, recognizing the dangers of antibiotic use, will only consider antibiotics for ear infections that have spread either to the mastoid bone behind the ear, or into the membranes known as the meninges that cover the brain and spinal cord.
Other pharmaceutical drugs can also cause or exacerbate hearing disorders, including aspirin and diuretic drugs used to treat conditions of water retention, such as edema. Chemotherapy can also cause hearing problems, in addition to many other serious side effects.
Excessive Earwax Buildup
Although a certain amount of earwax buildup inside the ear is normal and necessary for keeping the ear canal clean and moist, excessive wax buildup can lead to a host of hearing problems, include earache and ear pain, hearing loss, ear infections, inflammation, and dizziness. Food and environmental allergies often play a role in earwax buildup, as does poor hygiene and failure to properly clean the ears on a regular basis using cotton swabs. (see How Should I Clean My Ears? for safe ear swabbing technique.) Antibiotics can also play a role.
Infection and Inflammation
Both infection and inflammation are frequently involved in hearing disorders. Infections can occur as a result of the use of pharmaceutical drugs, swimming and/or bathing and showering in unclean water or water that contains high amounts of chlorine, and exposure to bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Infections related to hearing problems can also be due to pre-existing health conditions, including allergies, cancer, candidiasis, diabetes, and other chronic immune conditions.
Inflammation of the ear can occur as a result of physical trauma to the ear, as well as the inappropriate use of cotton swabs for ear cleaning and objects placed in the ear (a fairly common occurrence among young children).
An estimated 33 per cent of all hearing disorders are primarily due to exposure to loud noise (any sound over a decibel level of 80 to 85). In some cases, noise can cause permanent deafness. Sources of loud noise include airplanes, especially during takeoff; heavy construction and jackhammer use; regular attendance of hip hop, rap, rock, and heavy metal concerts (as well as playing in bands that perform such music); and listening to music played loud over stereos, Walkmans, MP3 players, and iPods (using headphones for this purpose can significantly increase the risk of hearing disorders, as well as increase ear infections). Loud noise, particularly if it is sudden an unexpected, can cause instant damage to the ear, impairing hearing by tearing the tissues of the inner ear.
Note: If you work in a loud or noisy environment consider the use of ear plugs or ear muffs, which must be provided by your employer according to federal regulations.
Other Causes of Hearing Disorders
Other possible causes of hearing disorders include perforation of any part of the middle or inner ear, smoking (due to how nicotine impairs circulation), swimming regularly in chlorinated pools (swimmer’s ear), autoimmune and metabolic health conditions, benign tumors, and vascular damage. Chronic dehydration can also cause or worsen hearing disorders, as can early bottle-feeding of infants in place of breastfeeding. Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome can also be a factor.
If you suffer from hearing problems, you need to be screened for food allergies and sensitivities, and then avoid eating those foods that you are allergic or sensitive to. In addition, avoid all sugar and sugar products, wheat and wheat byproducts, soy products, soft drinks, commercially processed foods, and all foods containing artificial ingredients, such as additives, colorings, flavorings, and preservatives (such as BHA, BHT, sodium nitrite, sulfites, saccharin, aspartame, and cyclamates).
Minimize your intake of milk and dairy products, and coffee and other caffeine products, as well as red meat, salt, refined carbohydrates (white breads, pastries, commercial pastas), corn, chocolate, and unhealthy fats (hydrogenated or trans fats).
Emphasize a diet rich in organic whole foods, especially plenty of organic fresh green vegetables and green vegetable drinks. Also, eat high quality protein foods such as free-range organic meats, poultry, and wild-caught fish. Garlic and onions are beneficial due to their immune-boosting properties, as are live cultured foods such as yogurt and cultured yogurt drinks, such as kefir and lassi. Also be sure to drink plenty of pure, filtered water throughout the day.
It is important to not add further toxicity to your system so try to adhere to the following:
- Do not consume any artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda, NutraSweet or Aspartame.
- Do not consume high fructose corn syrup or mono-sodium glutamate.
- Do not drink any carbonated beverages.
- Avoid all fast food restaurants.
- Avoid all canned food.
- Eliminate conventional dairy products. The best dairy products are raw, unpasteurised and homogenised dairy from grass fed cows. If this is unavailable, then buy organic dairy.
- Avoid conventional beef. The best beef is organic grass fed beef.
www.grasslandbeef.com/StoreFront.bok?affld=104400 The second best is organic meat; this includes beef, veal, lamb, chicken and turkey.
Certain vitamins can help ease hearing loss by providing antioxidant protection, correcting nutritional deficiencies, increasing blood circulation, enhancing your immune system and combating infection. Try vitamins A, B complex, C and E and you’ll find them available in capsule or tablet form.
Magnesium helps prevent damage to the hair cells in the inner ear, while potassium supports nerve impulse transmission, and zinc enhances immunity. You may also find that Manganese is helpful, as a deficiency is usually linked to ear disorders.
You may also find that Coenzyme Q10 has an effect, as it’s an antioxidant which combats cellular damage caused by free radicals.
Useful nutritional supplements for hearing disorders include vitamin A (hearing loss and tinnitus), B vitamins (otitis media and other hearing problems related to infection), vitamin C (otitis media and other hearing problems related to infection), zinc (tinnitus), beta carotene (otitis media), and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) (for excess fluid buildup in the ear). Iron should be considered, especially among children with hearing disorders, but only if the patient is iron deficient. Acidophilus is recommended for hearing disorders in order to maintain healthy gastrointestinal flora and to minimize the risk of infections and candidiasis. The amino acid glutamic acid can help cases of tinnitus and also helps to maintain proper brain function, which can improve symptoms of hearing disorders. Liquid MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) inserted in the ear via eye dropper can improve the elasticity of the membranes of the middle and inner ear, and is especially useful for age-related hearing loss. Folic acid is also beneficial for hearing loss.
- Take Vitamin D3 50,000-100,000 International Units a day for periods of 4 weeks at a time.
- Wholefood supplements are the best way of ensuring your nutritional needs are met. The best we know on the market is Kevin Trudeau’s “KT Daily” product. You can find more details here kevintrudeaudailylifesessentials.com/
- Take an Omega 3 supplement:
Prescription and non-prescription medication:
What non-prescription and prescription drugs are you taking? Your non-prescription and prescription are partially the reason that you have this illness or disease – you need to get off these medications but do so only under the guidance of a licensed health care practitioner.
Avoid exposure to loud noises. If you work in a noisy environment, be sure to wear protective earplugs or earmuffs.Also avoid listening to music, tv and spoken word using headphones, which can cause hearing loss and significantly increase the risk of ear infection. In addition, regularly clean your ears with cotton swabs, but do so gently, to avoid damaging ear tissue.
Some websites suggest to cut down your cell phone usage to improve hearing. Instead use a hands-free phone and keep the volume on low, when possible.
We know that when the body is out of balance, energy doesn’t flow, leading blockages and eventually dis-ease. Here are some things you can do to combat stress and restore balance:
- Go to a Dr Morter BEST (Bio-Energetic Synchronisation Technique) Practitioner.
- Sign up for Energetic Re-Balancing: 2 practitioners to consider are:
- Consider using Mary Millers Iching System Products – ichingsystemsinstruments.com
- Reiki healing is very powerful in releasing stress and emotional baggage. Find a practitioner here.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) has had remarkable results in dissolving stress. Find a local practitioner here (link) or go to www.thetappingsolution.comorwww.tftrx.com
- Try Hypnotherapy to relax the mind. Find a practitioner here.
Acupuncture for hearing loss: www.chinesemedicinetimes.com/article.php/91/acupuncture_good_for_hearing_loss
Qigong and hearing loss: www.canceractive.com/cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=1438
Hearing loss and sound therapy: www.soundtherapyperth.com/benefits/hearing.php
Can hearing loss be improved naturally? www.hearingdirect.com/blog/can-hearing-loss-be-improved-naturally.html
Natural remedies for hearing loss: www.botanical-online.com/hearinglossremedies.htm
Vitamins, herbs and supplements for hearing disorders: www.raysahelian.com/hearing.html
Traditional Chinese Medicine – Ancient Healing www.naturalcures.com/healthblog/traditional_chinese_ancient_healing.php
The best way to cleansing and purification of the body www.naturalcures.com/healthblog/54_the_best_way_to_cleansing_and_purification_of_the_body_110512.php
Mother Nature’s Natural Germ Fighters naturalhealthdossier.com/2012/03/mother-natures-natural-germ-fighters/
Immune health NC_Newsletter_07-11.pdf
Heal Your Body and Raise Your Consciousness – Qigong (from August 2012 newsletter)
Health Care that Won’t Cost You a Single Penny – EFT (June 2012 newsletter)
Become Master of Your Mind – taking charge of your reaction to stress (Oct 2012 newsletter)
Jump for Joy – Rebounding is a great stress busting workout (Oct 2012 newsletter)
Hypnotherapy for stress management – why it is so effective www.naturalcures.com/healthblog/hypnotherapy_for_stress.php
Try home remedies to heal Tinnitus: www.homeveda.com/ear-nose-and-throat/natural-ayurvedic-home-remedies-for-tinnitus.html
Natural Tinnitus cure: www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDEQ6eSu-mo
Natural treatment for hearing loss or impairment: www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpTBeW8FcqY
EFT for treating disease www.garythink.com/eft/physicial.html
Further Information (links and books)
Cure Acute Otitis Media and Glue Ear Without Antibiotics and Save Your Child From Adenoidectomy (Better Baby Health) [Kindle Edition] by Ljubica Savic
Tinnitus No More: The Complete Guide On Tinnitus Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, & Natural Tinnitus Remedies to Get Rid of Ringing in Ears Once and for All [Kindle Edition] by Brian M Lawrence
TINNITUS – Causes, Symptoms and Cures (Natural Health Remedies) [Kindle Edition] by Helen Angeles
Natural Relief from Tinnitus: A Good Health Guide (Good Health Guides) [Paperback] by Paul Yanick
Natural Alternatives to Antibiotics by John McKenna
by Bernie S Siegel
Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fifth Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food … A-To-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies) by Phyllis Balch
Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art by Kathi Keville and Mindi Green
Detox and revitalize by Susana L. Belen
Colloidal Silver: The Natural Antibiotic Alternative by Zane Baranowski
The Secret Language of Your Body by Inna Segal
The Healing Herbs: The Ultimate Guide to the Curative Power of Nature’s Medicines by Michael Castleman and Prevention Magazine
1,000 Indian Recipes (1,000 Recipes) by Neelam Batra;
Food–Your Miracle Medicine by Jean Carper
Andrea Butje | Aromahead email@example.com – aromatherapy
Carrie Vitt firstname.lastname@example.org – organic food recipes.
David Spector-NSR/USA email@example.com – meditation, stress
Judith Hoad firstname.lastname@example.org – herbalist.
Kath May email@example.com – reiki, tai chi.
Lillian Bridges firstname.lastname@example.org – Chinese medicine, living naturally.
Monika email@example.com – aromatherapy.
Rakesh GAC@AyurvedicLifeStyles.com – Ayurvedic Practitioner.