Liver-Gallbladder Fire: Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Auditory problems can be caused by chronically constrained qi (a concept in traditional Chinese medicine referring to the flow of vital energy in the body), a diet that is high in heating foods, and the use of alcohol or stimulant drugs. These substances can have a particularly strong effect on auditory problems related to liver pathology. The severity of the deficit can vary depending on the specific circumstances. In individuals who are otherwise healthy, but experience a sudden increase in stress, auditory problems may be of sudden onset and short duration, resolving once the stressor is removed. In those with ongoing stress, dietary, or substance abuse issues, auditory problems may be more persistent.

Sometimes, liver and gallbladder fire (another concept in traditional Chinese medicine referring to an excess of heat in these organs) can also appear as an acute episode if external pathogenic heat (disease-causing heat) infiltrates the shao yang channels (a system of energy pathways in the body). In such cases, an acute ear infection may be the first symptom.

Overall, liver fire tends to affect younger people. If it persists over time, it can lead to damage to liver yin (a concept in traditional Chinese medicine referring to the cooling and nourishing aspect of the liver). The pattern may then evolve into one of mixed deficiency and excess (common in middle age), and ultimately deficiency (common in the elderly). Liver fire may also be accompanied by phlegm-heat (a combination of excess phlegm and heat in the body).

Signs and symptoms

  • Sudden or sporadic high-pitched tinnitus and/or hearing loss, with a clear emotional aspect
  • Aggravated by stress, overexcitement or anger, and alleviated or less apparent when relaxed
  • Can be exacerbated by overindulgence in alcohol, tobacco or heating foods
  • Auditory deficit may be unilateral or bilateral with possible ear pain and/or discharge
  • Strong temporal headaches or migraines, dizziness
  • Facial flushing; red, sore, bloodshot eyes
  • Bitter/bad taste in the mouth; dry mouth and throat
  • Restlessness, extreme irritability
  • T red or with red edges and a dry, yellow or brown coat
  • P wiry, rapid, and strong

Healing approach

Clear heat from the liver and gallbladder, resolve any constraint of qi, and open the ears.

Base Formula