Have you ever wondered what people did in the distant past to treat hearing loss? Before the modern era, technology, and a healthcare system; how did people address any health conditions they were dealing with? We’ve certainly been curious! Especially because hearing loss is a medical condition that people have been navigating for centuries. Today, hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition among adults in the U.S.
We are fortunate enough to have access to a wealth of information, resources, research, and treatment options. There is an entire field of study, doctors, centers and clinics that are dedicated to hearing health. People are able to schedule an appointment with an audiologist or other hearing healthcare professionals to examine their hearing and effectively treat any degree of impairment. The most common treatment is hearing aids which are electronic devices that are designed to absorb, amplify, and process sound; increasing one’s ability to hear. But before advanced technology and medicine, people tried a variety of bizarre and humorous ways to cure hearing loss. Let’s explore a few!
Inserting Things in the Ears
Probably the most common way people sought to cure their hearing loss is by inserting a range of random things in the ears. Some examples include the following:
- Putting various oils in the ear
- Inserting a twig in the ear and not removing it until the hearing loss was cured
- Pouring drops of pig fat (also bear fat) in the ears
Random right?! Well, in addition to putting stuff in the ears, people also tried oral remedies. It is important to note that these methods were often recommended by doctors and naturopaths!
Ingesting substances was another major way people attempted to alleviate hearing loss. Herbalists made recipes and mixed herbs that they claimed cured hearing loss. Throughout time, people also claimed that certain drugs could restore hearing, this includes tobacco and opium.
People also tried other, maybe more extreme, ways of curing hearing loss including:
- Blistering: this involved purposely creating blisters in the ear canal (often done by using plaster) and popping the blister. Some people believed that the pus that is extracted releases toxins that cause hearing loss.
- Bloodletting: is the practice of withdrawing blood from the body which was common in the past and was believed to help maintain balance for good health. Today, this practice is known as phlebotomy but is done to analyze or blood transfusions; not to cure hearing loss!
Additionally, people would climb high places like a tree for example and jump down. These attempts of course, were not effective and hearing loss continued to persist.
Modern Era Remedies
With all of the research and information that is available and continues to expand in the modern era, people have used (and continue to use) unscientific methods to address their hearing loss including the following:
- Acupuncture: is a practice grounded in traditional Chinese medicine and has been used for centuries to treat main and various health conditions. Some acupuncturists have long claimed that it can also cure hearing loss. Central to acupuncture is the philosophy that health is a balanced flow of energy (known as chi). When there is an imbalance, it causes health issues. This practice involves placing thin needles into the body at specific points that are believed to be along the pathways where chi flows. This activates the muscles and nerves, releasing hormones that encourage the body’s natural healing abilities.
- Supplements: nowadays, there seems to me a supplement for most things. There is actually a hearing loss pill that exists which claims to cure hearing loss (it has a disclaimer on it… of course).
- Hypnosis: or hypnotherapy is the practice of using verbal repetition and imagery to put people in a relaxed, trance like state. In this state, people are increasingly focused and open to the suggestions being made. People have long sought hypnosis to break habits and address health conditions including hearing loss.
Most hearing loss is not curable so these remedies did not work! Luckily, there are effective ways to treat hearing impairment that result in dramatically better hearing.