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Rarely, tinnitus is due to an actual sound, such as blood rushing through an enlarged vein—a problem that requires medical treatment. More commonly the problem is due to nerve irritation from an unknown source or an underlying ear problem often induced by noise damage. The cause of tinnitus should be diagnosed by a doctor.
Symptoms may include hearing buzzing, roaring, ringing, whistling, or hissing sounds. These sounds may be intermittent, continuous, or pulsing. Tinnitus may interfere with normal activities and sleep, and there may be an associated decrease in the ability to hear conversation or other sounds in the environment.
Acupuncture has been studied as a treatment for tinnitus in several controlled trials. Preliminary trials have reported improvement in symptoms of tinnitus following acupuncture treatment, but this relief was either not permanent or did not reach statistical significance.1 Most trials have shown no advantage of acupuncture treatment over placebo for the treatment of tinnitus.2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 A review of clinical trials concluded that acupuncture is not an effective treatment for tinnitus.9
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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2017.