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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Tinnitus and Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Tinnitus and Sensorineural Hearing Loss

In the world of modern medicine, people are constantly looking for a solution to health problems or simply want to find ways to prolong their lives.

Apart from living longer lives, many of us aim to live with more energy, strength, and resilience. Modern science has made it possible for us to live healthier lives than ever before, despite the many external factors that cause physical ailments.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is one of the great discoveries that has numerous benefits for the body. It boosts the immune system, promotes faster healing, and simply contributes greatly to our physical wellbeing.

We have discussed the many benefits of hyperbaric oxygen in previous blogs. We have talked about how hyperbaric oxygen therapy aids against infection and inflammation, how it speeds up recovery from plastic surgery and other invasive surgeries, how it contributes to stamina and performance, and even how it can help us avoid chronic illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and cancer. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used to treat all sorts of medical conditions including anemia, ulcers, tissue damage, brain tissue injuries, and more. HBOT involves the inhalation of 100% oxygen at high ambient pressures. It is used as a treatment in the management of infections and inflammation.

In a hyperbaric chamber, our body can absorb more oxygen which is infused into our blood cells and repair tissues faster. In high pressure, oxygen-rich environments, like inside a hyperbaric chamber, the plasma transforms into an enormous reservoir of oxygen, which the cells can then use for virtually anything our body needs. This increase in oxygenation leads to a long list of possible cellular improvements including faster recovery from injuries.

Oxygenating the blood in this manner stimulates angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels in the tissues) which speeds up the body’s healing process by up to 500%. It also helps build and repair damaged blood vessels, triggers collagen growth, reduces swelling and pain, increases blood flow and circulation, boosts the effectiveness of antibiotics, and encourages the creation of new white blood cells to ward off infection. 

In this blog, we will discuss how hyperbaric oxygen can possibly help patients suffering from tinnitus and hearing loss. We will go in-depth and review if hyperbaric oxygen can provide some relief for these ailments.

Tinnitus relief with Hyperbaric Oxygen

Tinnitus (pronounces as tih-NITE-us or TIN-ih-tus) is ringing in the ears without an external song.

The sensation may sound like ringing, chirping, hissing, buzzing, chirping, shrieking, or other similar sounds. It may occur in one ear or both and can be continuous or intermittent. The sound heard also varies in loudness and is usually worse when there is no background noise. People who experience tinnitus are usually most aware of the ringing in quiet rooms or before going to bed.

Tinnitus is a very common occurrence, with an estimated 50 million adults in the US having experienced it. It is not unusual to experience it after exposure to very loud noise. Many people have gotten short-term tinnitus from attending loud concerts and even from taking high doses of medication such as aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

The condition is merely a short-lived annoyance for most people, but there are known to be severe cases of tinnitus that lead to difficulty in concentrating, sleeping, and may even interfere with work and relationships leading to mental and emotional distress.

Severe stress from tinnitus may eventually manifest into physical ailments.  When tinnitus lasts for more than six months, it is already considered as chronic tinnitus. The condition is most common in people over the age of 55 and usually associated with hearing loss, although it does not actually cause it, and hearing loss does not cause tinnitus as well. Some cases of tinnitus do not actually experience difficulty in hearing.

With most occurrences of tinnitus being mild and short-lived, it is rarely a sign of going deaf or another more serious medical problem. Pulsatile tinnitus occurs when people hear their own heartbeat from inside the ear. This tends to happen in older people when blood flow becomes more turbulent in arteries with walls that have hardened due to age. If you suspect that you have pulsatile tinnitus, it is suggested to consult a clinician because in rare circumstances, it may be a sign of blood vessel damage or a tumor. Tinnitus can stem from many causes but usually stems from neuropathy in the ear’s acoustic nerves.

Neuropathy is damage to one or more nerves and tinnitus usually stems from some kind of damage to the acoustic nerves. This usually leaves the nerve inflamed, which leads to the ringing in the ear in tinnitus.

By implementing hyperbaric oxygen, the added oxygenation enters the bloodstream and improves circulation and blood flow. This means that inflammation in the nerves is reduced by giving the body what it needs to heal. Micro-circulation is improved around the damaged tissue, and we’ve seen many patients find a resolution for tinnitus symptoms through hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Can Hyperbaric Oxygen improve hearing loss?

There are many causes of hearing loss but for this blog, we discuss how hyperbaric oxygen can help relieve sensorineural hearing loss.

Apart from this, issues with the nerve pathways that connect the inner ear to the brain may also cause sensorineural hearing loss. When this occurs, soft sounds may be difficult to hear while louder sounds can be muffled or can sound unclear.

Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of permanent hearing loss. The majority of the time, sensorineural hearing loss cannot be reversed with medicine or surgery. Many patients turn to hearing aids when this occurs. Sensorineural hearing loss usually happens gradually but in rare cases, is experienced very suddenly. It affects both the loudness and clarity of sound. It can reduce sounds or in some cases, loud sounds may become too loud.

Sensorineural hearing loss can either be congenital or acquired. Most cases of sensorineural hearing loss are acquired. They can be caused by a variety of reasons such as aging, extreme noise, disease and infection, acoustic trauma, tumors, or medication. In fact, over 200 kinds of medications contain chemicals that are harmful to hearing health. 

The inner ear’s hearing function is managed by the cochlea. This hollow bone found in the inner ear is known to need a high dose of oxygen. Cochlear hypoxia is associated with many issues in the ear including hearing loss. When this happens, blood supply is minimal and oxygen must be diffused through the perilymph and cortilymph in the ear. 

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases oxygenation in the perilymph and has brought improvement in a considerable number of patients experiencing sensorineural hearing loss. Like with tinnitus, hyperbaric oxygen provides the cochlea with a boost in oxygen that helps repair damaged nerves and tissues in the inner ear, providing relief from sudden hearing loss.

We have seen tremendous improvement in patients with hearing loss, some even gaining their full hearing back after a series of treatments in the hyperbaric chamber.

How to treat tinnitus and sensorineural hearing loss with Hyperbaric Oxygen

The effectivity of hyperbaric oxygen in relief from tinnitus and sensorineural hearing loss has a lot to do with speed and timing. A critical part of sensorineural treatment with hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the timing at which a patient seeks treatment.

Patients who seek treatment under 40 days after symptoms occur are much more responsive to hyperbaric oxygen therapy. However, we’ve had patients that have had sensorineural hearing loss for longer and have still gotten good results from hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Of course, it is advised to seek treatment sooner rather than later.

The right pressure and right timing is key for treating sensorineural hearing loss. These cases along with tinnitus cases are typically treated with atmospheres between 1.75 to 2.2. This pressure is a critical number for patients to be able to regain their hearing or to alleviate the symptoms of tinnitus.


Vishaal Veerula, MD

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