Hearing Loss Cures of the Past

Hearing Loss Cures of the Past

by Dr. Kevin Ivory

Hearing loss is a problem that affects more than 48 million Americans, and modern medicine can effectively help those Americans. In the past, people suffering from hearing loss for one reason or another didn’t have the luxury of modern medicine. They had to rely on backward thinking and untested science that often yielded more failures than successes.

Despite hearing loss being connected to any number of causes, 18th and 19th-century medicine view it as easily curable. That easy approach led many researchers and doctors to develop and prescribe some cockamamie remedies. Let’s start with the story of one of the most famous hearing-impaired celebrities to ever live: Beethoven.Beethoven suffered from what modern science defines as tinnitus as well as other hearing deficiencies. During his youth, Beethoven sought medical advice from several doctors throughout Europe. Many of them suggested common solutions for hearing loss at the time, while others prescribed him some bizarre solutions.

One of the weirdest things Beethoven was medically prescribed was isolation. His doctor genuinely believed that his ears just “needed to rest”. A medical physician told Beethoven that his ears needed to rest. Other doctors ordered Beethoven to put almond oil earplugs in regularly. He was also offered galvanism; but, of course, none of the “medicines” worked, and Beethoven continued making some of the greatest music the world’s ever heard.Finding weird, unbelievable remedies for hearing loss based on home medicine isn’t that weird. For generations, old wives’ tales and superstition have demanded that people do, eat, drink, or bath in some weird stuff.

Yet, science and medicine seem to have concocted the weirdest cure-alls. Countless contraptions were developed in the 19th century to cure a number of physical conditions. Some worked, but none of the contraptions for hearing loss even came close to working.There was the darker, slightly abusive treatment that involved giving patients blisters to restore and cure hearing loss. It’s not really clear how science came to the conclusion that blistering a person’s skin would improve hearing, but the basic reasoning was that the pus seeping out of the blisters was evidence of toxins exiting the body. In a way, it makes sense but that science is not at all connected to hearing loss or restoration.Then, science came up with an ingenious idea too soon, meaning it was a terrible idea for the times.

Developed in the late 1800s, artificial eardrums promised to give people their hearing back. While artificial eardrums are tomorrow’s medicine, artificial eardrums in the 1800s were painful to insert and sometimes made of metal.Oh, but wait; there’s more. The crazy solutions people come up with didn’t stop in the 1900s. People are still coming up with wacky “medical solutions” for hearing loss.

One that seduces a lot of people is hypnosis. Performing hypnosis on a deaf person seems impossible, as deaf people can’t hear the hypnotic sounds and instructions needed to hypnotize someone, but healers all over the world claim they can heal people’s hearing loss.Another big scheme is Hearing Loss Pills. Modern pharmaceuticals can do amazing things, especially when inspired by natural ingredients, but hearing loss pills are a stretch.

The reason people fall for these schemes is that the companies selling these pills offer a money-back guarantee. The prospect of getting their money back in 60 days if they’re not satisfied makes people believe these products work.The reality of hearing loss pills is that companies know people won’t send the pills back if they don’t work. Modern consumers buy a lot of things they see on TV or on websites and never do anything with them once they’ve received the shipment.

Despite the outrageous number of scams and wacky historical remedies in the world, the best way to deal with hearing loss is the cisit to an experienced audiologist. They are the only ones with the knowledge and know-how to effectively restore hearing. The two primary treatments are scientifically proven hearing aids or specialized surgery.

Written by
Reviewed by
Dr. Kevin H. Ivory
Audiologist & University Instructor
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Dr. Kevin Ivory, Au.D., CCC-A received his Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He then went on to earn his Doctor of Audiology degree from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, one of the top 10 audiology residential programs in the country.

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