Hearing Loss Cures of the Past

Hearing Loss Cures of the Past

In Hearing Loss Treatment by Laurie Duffy, M.S.

Laurie Duffy, M.S.

Laurie Duffy, M.S. has been a licensed audiologist for over 30 years. After working for many years for non-profit rehabilitation agencies and other audiology practices, she established her own practice in 1999.
Laurie Duffy, M.S.

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Not all afflictions in the human body have to be serious. They are serious; learning from past mistakes doesn’t have to be serious. When it comes to hearing loss, people used to do some wacky things to “cure” their condition. Looking back, it’s a miracle science ever figured out a solution for hearing loss.

Historical cures are a lesson in human creativity. A lot can be learned from those mistakes; mainly, not to them again. The most infamous case of hearing loss cures happened in the life of Beethoven. Beethoven is known for his music and hearing deficiencies. During his time seeking medical help, his doctors prescribed all sorts of weird wonders.

At one point, one of his doctors told him to start using almond oil earplugs, which may have made a lot of sense back then. Another doctor wanted him to go through galvanism, which is when doctors send an electric current through the body to stimulate the afflicted area. That would mean sending a current through his head, but that’s something people did back then. Lastly, a doctor told him he just needed to “rest his ears” by being alone for a while.

Beethoven went through some pretty weird therapies, but it just got weird as time went on. Eventually, science started building contraptions for people to wear around town like crazy people. At the time, people believed these treatments worked. Today, science knows none of those contraptions had any basis in reality and only made the wearers look like a joke.

There were also dark days of science when medicine caused more physical pain than the affliction. The time that doctors and healers blistered their patients was the darkest. Blisters supposedly had a lot of medicinal uses, which included improving hearing. Science also developed primitive artificial eardrums that involved painfully inserting tiny objects into people’s ears. Some of those objects were metal and not good quality metal either, so they were conducive to rust and bending.

As crazy as people were back then, they’re still just as crazy today. Today, more spiritual healers have gotten into the medical game. It’s far too easy to find a spiritual healer or guide that claims to able to heal someone’s hearing loss with hypnosis. One man, David Quigley, says he was healed by hypnosis. He says his healer cured him by putting her fingers in his ears.

Sounds too good to be true, but it’s considered a cure by many. There’s also Hearing Loss Pills, Personal Sound Amplification Devices, and cheese. Yep! Cheese is considered a modern cure for hearing loss. For the cheese method to work, a person needs to eat about five pounds of cheese but beyond that, cheese works!?

It really is surprising that more insane things weren’t creative to cure deafness and hearing deficiencies. Until the 1950s, people considered deafness a terrible disease that needed to be cured by any means necessary. Looking at a list of what people came up without science is humorous and shocking.

There’s everything from sticking twigs in the ears and keeping them all day and night until the deafness is cured. One cure involved boiling urine and using the boiled off water to wash the ear. Supposedly, it stopped the deafness, as if deafness was creeping into the brain. Some sounded like it was partially a cookbook, like frying peach kernels in hog log and dropping some of the mixture into the ear to stop the deafness. Countless drugs, including opium, were associated with curing hearing loss. The same goes for oils and ointments, some of which are still around today.

The biggest cure-all in the world is religion. People will go to extreme lengths to see a certain priest or healer that supposedly can heal anything. What people back then and some still today don’t understand is that being deaf isn’t a terrible thing.

If anyone isn’t happy being deaf, they should see a licensed hearing healthcare provider. There still aren’t many options for hearing loss, but there are clinically proven hearing aids and cochlear implants.