What do bloodletting, caustic chemicals, alcohol, electroshock, and jumping off a bridge all have in common?
At one point or another, these were all suggested as cures for hearing loss. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? These days, the very notion that we’d rely on such pseudoscience seems patently absurd.
Unfortunately, things haven’t changed as much as you might think. Certainly, we understand hearing loss and hearing protection better now than we did back then. But that doesn’t mean we’re any closer to a permanent fix.
As a result, people will continue to try whatever desperate, insane miracle cure happens to cross their desks. That’s why, despite having advanced scientific and medical data literally in the palms of their hands, people continue to place their trust in holistic health methods, faith healers, snake oils, and an endless parade of supplements. We’re going to discuss a few of the most egregious.
“Just Stick It In Your Ear”
We all know that sticking random objects in your ear is a very bad thing. We’re aware of the damage that even a simple Q-Tip can cause to your hearing. Yet, for some reason, it’s something we continually insist on doing.
Maybe it’s because this is one of the oldest, simplest concepts around hearing and one which has gone through many iterations over the years. From animal fat and herb poultices to oiled earplugs and vibrating wires, we’ve jammed just about anything you could imagine up our ear canals. One of the most recent (and most harmful) techniques is something known as ear candling.
I’m not going to even bother describing what it involves here. The only thing that’s worth saying about it is to never, under any circumstances, attempt it. It won’t help your hearing and will likely leave you with a nasty burn.
There’s No Such Thing as a Miracle Elixir
Across all recorded history, we’ve evidence of tinctures of nearly every kind and of varying effectiveness. It would take half a novel to recount even a few of the plants used as medicine over the ages. Naturally, we’ve also seen plenty of poultices, potions, teas, and ointments intended to cure hearing loss at one point, we even thought Absinthe could cure not just ear pain but many other common ailments.
Even to this day, there are some in the lunatic fringe who maintain that fixing your hearing impairment is simply a matter of taking the right supplement, or drinking a particular snake oil, or eating certain foods. It’s true that hearing health is often connected in some way to your overall health. But what you ingest cannot and will not have any impact on your hearing unless you’re taking actual medication.
While many holistic “medicines” are usually just water and traces of minerals or vitamins, some pose much higher risks of injury. Essential oils are frequently recommended in place of medical care, especially in online forums. While essential oils generally don’t pose much harm to anything but your sense of smell, they can cause skin irritation and even burns if they aren’t diluted.
Worse still, many of these natural oils are toxic if ingested
No, Hypnosis Doesn’t Work
There’s no shortage of opportunists looking to run your wallet dry. Faith healers, hypnotists, and holistic nutjobs will all claim that they have the miracle cure. You can hear again if you start using more of your brain, they’ll say, or if you simply relax, or light these scented candles, or pray harder.
They all have one thing in common, and it’s that none of their methods actually work.
The internet is an incredible tool but also can be used to spread misinformation like wildfire in the wrong hands. At the end of the day, it’s no substitute for actual, sound medical advice. We have access to online hearing tests and many ways to learn about hearing loss and hearing health from professionals. We’re well past the days when people would be leaving a doctor’s office with matching twigs in their ear canals.