Copyright 2011 – 2016 by David Rindge. All rights reserved
At the Center for Cooperative Medicine, we are studying the effects of laser light at low intensity in ear disorders, including tinnitus, hearing loss and Meniere’s disease.
How effective is laser therapy?
In a study of 348 patients by Dr. Lutz Wilden, virtually everyone responded positively, and average hearing capacity increased by nearly 21%. The degree of improvement correlated with patients’ age and the duration of their condition. 1
Who may benefit?
Almost anyone with hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo or other disorders related to the ear according to Dr. Wilden, who writes, “….even serious impairments such as the most excruciating cases of tinnitus, dysacusia, morbus Menière and bradyacusia can be considerably alleviated and even healed with the aid of modern light technology and the corresponding medical management.” 2
What is the nature of tinnitus, hearing loss and ear-related vertigo?
Tinnitus, the perception of sound without an external cause, is an emergency signal by cells in the inner ear according to Dr. Wilden. Just as placing pressure on the eyes with a finger causes one to see stars, so tinnitus may be the result of stress to the cells responsible for our sense of hearing in the inner ear.
In modern society background noise is omnipresent, often at high levels, and our sense of hearing has been universally challenged. Wilden believes that tinnitus, hearing loss, vertigo, and altered sensation within the ear are often the result of “biological exhaustion of the inner ear”, and this may be due to acute or chronic exposure to sound, antibiotics, other drugs and many other stressors.
Laser Therapy and Cochlear Hair Cells
Hair cells in the cochlea are our sensory receptors for sound. Most hearing loss in humans is a result of damage to these cells. Two studies in 2011 and 2012 by Rhee et al [3,4] have documented the regeneration of cochlear hair cells by laser therapy.
In rats exposed to loud noise and treated with laser therapy in the 2012 study, the investigators found:
- An increase in the number of hair cells.
- A statistically significant reduction in hearing threshold laser treated ears. A reduction in hearing threshold means that the animals were able to perceive sounds at a lower intensity.
In the 2011 study, the authors administered gentamicin, an antibiotic famously known to cause hearing loss in humans, to tissue cultures of rat cochlea (living cells from the cochlea of rats kept alive in a petrie dish or similar medium). The number of hair cells was significantly greater in the gentamicin plus laser group.
In a more recent study in January 2016 at Harvard, Bartos et al found that pre-treatment of HEI-OC1 auditory cells with near infrared light (810 nm) prior to gentamicin or lipopolysaccharide administration resulted in a decrease of inflammatory cytokines and stress levels and proposed near infrared light therapy as a possible approach to address ototoxic drugs and noise exposure associated with hearing loss. See Pre-conditioning with near infrared photobiomodulation reduces inflammatory cytokines and markers of oxidative stress in cochlear hair cells.
How laser and pulsed electromagnetic field therapies work.
Think of laser therapy as a battery jump for cells. See how it works here.
Acoustic and other trauma, including antibiotics, other drugs and the aging process, can damage hair cells and other delicate structures within the cochlea, resulting in hearing loss. Laser and pulsed electromagnetic field therapies have properties to stimulate biological function and regenerate tissue which may help re-establish normal transmission of nerve impulses.
Tinnitus is another frequent consequence of trauma to the ear in which nerves are stimulated to send impulses to the brain perceived as sound but without an external cause. Laser and pulsed electromagnetic field therapies have been documented to regenerate nerve, restore hearing and to reduce middle and inner ear inflammation. These methods may even help to reverse ankylosis, the fusion of the tiny bones within the ear which may occur with aging.
Read what has scientists and doctors excited about the promise of laser and pulsed electromagnetic field therapies in the treatment of hearing loss, tinnitus, Meniere’s and other ear disorders – in their own words:
- Laser Therapy Research – Ear Disorders
- Pulsed Electromagnetic Magnetic Field Therapy Research – Ear Disorders.
What is treatment like?
Laser therapy should always be administered to both ears simultaneously. We like to treat in a darkened room with an eyes covered. For most individuals, most of the time, treatment is quite comfortable. Many fall asleep. One may experience mild warmth from the laser diodes within each ear. Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy may also be given simultaneously.
Over a course of treatment, the volume of tinnitus may increase, and its pitch may change. Some experience sensitivity to sound, pressure or other sensations. Yet these may be considered signs that treatment is working. Wilden writes, “First the patients experience an amelioration of their hearing capacity. Then the symptoms sensation of pressure in the ear and vertigo improve, and finally the ringing in the ears (= tinnitus) changes its property; having first become unsteady in volume, tone quality and frequency (which often gets higher and higher) and more easily assignable to corresponding stressors, it gradually thins down and recedes further and further into the background, until it eventually disappears for good.” 5
How many treatments will be necessary?
This depends upon the nature, degree and duration of the condition. Generally, acute conditions and younger patients respond more quickly. Long-standing, chronic conditions and older patients may require more treatment. The longer someone has been experiencing tinnitus, hearing loss or ear-related vertigo, the greater the time and laser energy likely to be necessary. Yet although there are no panaceas or guarantees, Dr. Wilden also notes, “After thirty years of experimental and clinical research, there aren’t any known side-effects of low level laser light.”6
To read about one person’s experience, visit Meniere’s Disease & Laser Therapy – A Personal Report
We believe that laser therapy may be the single most effective method available to address hearing loss, tinnitus or Meniere’s Disease.
To learn more, visit Laser Therapy in Ear Disorders.
If you have questions or would like to learn how low level laser and pulsed electromagnetic field therapies may be applied in your specific circumstances, we ask that you schedule a consultation with David Rindge by calling our office, 321-751-7001, by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or via our Contact Form.
Please also complete the New Patient Information Form, scan and email it to email@example.com, or send it by mail to: Center for Cooperative Medicine, 1601 Airport Blvd, Suite 1, Melbourne, FL 32901. Also be sure to include recent and baseline audiograms, as available, relevant lab reports, MRI, CAT and other imaging reports and anything you believe may help us to gain a fuller understanding of your health and the nature of the condition.
Consultation by Telephone or Skype: 45-60″ $225.00, includes detailed, actionable recommendations and supportive material.
Where can I find laser therapy for my ear condition locally where I live?
This is the most common question we are asked. At present it is seldom easy to answer it to anyone’s satisfaction.
Although laser therapy is increasingly available almost everywhere, the vast majority of practitioners are using equipment which is not suitable for ear therapy. In order to treat ear disorders correctly and safely, twin laser diodes of appropriate wavelength and output power are required so that both ears can be treated at the same time and equally.
Ears are responsible not just for hearing but also for balance. Treating just one ear by itself or even both ears, one at a time, risks inducing vertigo.
One of our goals is to train qualified and interested practitioners to establish appropriate laser and pemf programs for ear therapy elsewhere in the US.
Besides our office in Melbourne, Florida, we recommend:
Jo Boyd, LAc
PO Box 101
Gakona, Alaska 99586
Copyright 2011-2015 by David Rindge. All rights reserved
1 Wilden, Lutz Report on more than eight years of low level laser therapy of chronic inner ear diseases. The IXX Annual Meeting of The American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, Lake Buena Vista, Florida. April 16-18, 1999. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. Supplement 11, 1999
3 Rhee CK, Bahk CW, Kim SH, Ahn JC, Jung JY, Chung PS, Suh MW. Effect of low-level laser treatment on cochlea hair-cell recovery after acute acoustic trauma. J Biomed Opt. 2012 Jun;17(6):068002.
4 Rhee CK, He P, Jung JY, Ahn JC, Chung PS, Suh MW. Effect of low-level laser therapy on cochlear hair cell recovery after gentamicin-induced ototoxicity. Lasers Med Sci. 2011 Dec 4.