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Ask Barry Questions on Tinnitus

Questions asked by real people with tinnitus. Answered by tinnitus authority Barry Keate.

Arches Natural Products President, Barry Keate, understands the suffering caused by tinnitus. Having lived with tinnitus for over five decades, Barry is an expert on the condition and has made the recovery from tinnitus his life’s work.
NOTE: Ask Barry is pleased to be able to answer your questions based upon the information we have available. Our answers to inquiries are not substitutes for a physician’s advice nor are they reviewed by a physician. We encourage you to share any suggestions you have received from Ask Barry with your doctor.

April 2024 Ask Barry

Sinus Allergies and Tinnitus Relief

Hi Barry,

I was wondering what your thoughts are on people who have sinus allergies and if it causes tinnitus to be worse? I have had a runny and stopped up nose most of my life and feel it contributes to the ringing. Does your formula help with clearing the sinus cavity? Is it harmful to take OTC allergy meds and/or do they interfere with tinnitus?

Thanks for your help and I’m constantly on a quest to get some relief.
Gina L.

Dear Gina,

Sinus allergies can definitely cause tinnitus and may be at the root of yours. Our products don’t help with sinus problems.

You should see an Ear, Nose & Throat physician. Typical treatments for this include a prescription nasal spray, such as Flonase, and an antihistamine.

Some over-the-counter allergy meds can cause or worsen tinnitus. You can find out which by searching for the medication by name and the term “tinnitus”.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

Reduce tinnitus with a hearing aid?

Hi  Barry,

I have had tinnitus for years! One doctor suggested that I get a hearing aid with “a counter rhythm sound.” Any comment on that suggestion?

Michael J.

Dear Michael,

I’m not sure what the doctor meant by “counter rhythm”. I can’t find anything about a hearing aid with this term attached. Perhaps your doctor meant something with a rhythmic tone included in the device.

There is a hearing aid manufacturer named Widex that makes a device which includes what are termed “fractal tones”. These tones sound something like a wind chime only they are electronically generated and repeat a never ending pattern of sounds. The device is called the Widex Zen and it has been on the market for a few years.

These wind chime-like tones are designed to stimulate the brain and remove negative emotions associated with tinnitus. It is also a hearing aid which can amplify ambient sounds to help mask the tinnitus.

There is some clinical evidence that these instruments can be helpful in reducing scores of the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI). This questionnaire shows researchers how much tinnitus affects the lives of those who have it. The clinical trial I found combined use of the hearing aid with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and a relaxation program. The therapy and relaxation program are at least partly responsible for the lowering of the THI scores. The only way to tell if the instrument is effective is to run a trial without the additional therapies.

I have listened to a Widex Zen during a demonstration at a convention of Ear, Nose and Throat physicians. It was somewhat annoying to me and I don’t think I could listen to it for long. I’ve read that some people react to it as calming.

Widex Zen instruments cost between $1,00 to $3500. Most hearing aids have a return policy of 30 days during which time you do not need to pay for them unless you decide to keep them.

If you wish to try one of these, contact an Audiologist for a trial.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

Tamiflu and Tinnitus

Hi Barry,

I’ve come down with the flu and just started taking an oral anti-viral medication called Tamiflu. I also restarted your recommended anti-oxidant regimen of Vitamin C, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Ubiquinol, and L Methionine, in addition to NAC and your Tinnitus Formula.

I have noticed my tinnitus being louder since starting Tamiflu.

Should the antioxidants give me protection from ototoxicity, and would you expect the level of my tinnitus to drop back to baseline after finishing the Tamiflu?

Thank you for your help!

David F.

Hi David,

I cannot find any reference to Tamiflu causing tinnitus. This doesn’t mean that it didn’t cause your increase; many side effects aren’t discovered for a long time. It does mean, though, that it is not a powerful ototoxic drug or that would have been discovered by now.

I think you are pretty safe from any possible long-term damage if you continue with these antioxidants. Make sure you take 1,000 mg of NAC twice daily. Your tinnitus should decline after discontinuing the Tamiflu.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

March 2024 Ask Barry

Stress, Tinnitus and Benzo Withdrawal

Dear Barry,

Why does stress seem to heighten my tinnitus volume? When it progressively gets louder I do have an anxious attachment to it.

I have been treated for TMJ and I have taken Arches for over two years.

The worst mistake I ever made was taking a physician’s advice and going on Klonopin – because it might help (my tinnitus). Now after two years I’m having a hard time getting them to help me get off of it, because it may make my symptoms even worse.

Have a great day!
Tim B.

Dear Tim,

Stress is the No.1 aggravator of tinnitus. It will take a level 3 tinnitus (on a scale of 10), and turn it into a 7 or 8 overnight. It does this by changing the body’s chemistry. Blood pressure rises, circulation is reduced and heart rate and breathing are increased. Tinnitus causes stress and stress makes tinnitus worse. It’s a vicious cycle.

Klonopin and other benzodiazepines can become very difficult to withdraw from. They were only meant to be used for a short period. They are addictive and, if you don’t keep increasing the dosage, they can aggravate the very condition they were taken for in the first place. Benzo’s have to be withdrawn from very slowly to avoid the worst of the withdrawal symptoms. They are typically reduced by 10% every 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the person. This means a complete withdrawal may take from 20 to 40 weeks.

I hope some of this is helpful for you.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

Can Rx ingredient related to an artificial sweetener cause tinnitus?


I have a question about phenylalanine. I know it is somehow related to aspartame, which is a neurotoxin.

My doctor recently gave me a new .25 mg oral dissolving tablet of clonazepam (klonopin) for use at bedtime, as it helps with night time panic attacks. I noticed on the tablet label that each dose also contains .56mg of phenylalanine.

I am concerned that this additional substance in the tablet could be aggravating my tinnitus. Is this something to be concerned about?

Frank O.

Dear Frank,

Klonopin is often prescribed by doctors for sleep issues and is a benzodiazepine. It threw me initially and I had to investigate phenylalanine to find out just what it is. I still don’t know why the manufacturer included it with Klonopin but I have some information about it.

Aspartate and glutamate are both excitatory neurotransmitters. They are necessary for proper brain function but become dangerous when they predominate over the inhibitory neurotransmitters, primarily GABA.

Aspartame is made by the combination of aspartate and phenylalanine. Both are released during metabolism of aspartame. Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid. This means it is necessary for protein formation but cannot be manufactured in the body and must be obtained through food sources or by supplementation. Food sources for this are protein rich foods such as meat, fish, poultry, dairy products and beans.

In the body, phenylalanine is converted to another amino acid, tyrosine, which, in turn, is converted to dopamine and norepinephrine. These are key neurotransmitters that transmit signals between nerve cells.

Because some antidepressants work by raising levels of norepinephrine, phenylalanine has been tried as a possible treatment for depression. This may be why it is included with Klonopin.

Phenylalanine is available as a dietary supplement. The claim is it increases neurotransmitters that have anti-depressant qualities.

I think taking a small dose of phenylalanine with Klonopin will be fine and should not increase tinnitus. However, if you do begin to notice an increase in tinnitus levels you should consult your physician.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

How long does it take Tinnitus Formula to work?

Dear Barry,

I have tried your tinnitus product before (2 bottles), but really did not see any difference. Is there a normal period of time before the formula starts to work?


Dear Steve,

We always recommend you must use Arches Tinnitus Formula for a minimum of 100 days (4 bottles) before you can determine how effective it will be. Trying 1 or 2 bottles will usually not prove effective. Some individuals do see results in that time but we know historically it takes most people longer. Referring doctors tell their patients to try at least 4 bottles before determining total efficacy.  This is one reason why we reduce our price for 4 bottles, saving you $30, to encourage the physician recommended treatment.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

February 2024 Ask Barry

Allergies or Hearing Loss… What caused her tinnitus?

Dear Barry,

I’ve had tinnitus for years; every year a little worse. I have allergies, sinusitis and some loss of hearing. I’m going to get hearing aids this fall & I hope they help. I’ve just started taking your Ginkgo Max. Is it possible that ginkgo could make my tinnitus worse?

I’m hoping it helps even though I think most of my tinnitus is physiological.

Best regards,

Dear Chris,

Allergies, sinusitis and hearing loss will all cause tinnitus so we don’t know what the cause of yours may be. If it is allergies or sinusitis Arches Tinnitus Formula (with Ginkgo Max 26/7) may not be helpful. If the tinnitus is caused by hearing loss, it should be helpful. An audiologist can give you hearing tests that can determine the cause of tinnitus. If your tinnitus is at the frequency where hearing loss occurs, that is probably the cause.

And rest assured Ginkgo biloba will not your make tinnitus worse.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

How much melatonin for sleep is safe?

Dear Barry,

I have been taking 10 mg of melatonin for several years. However, it has stopped working about five weeks ago due to insomnia from work stress. I’ve done some online research and found that melatonin should only be taken occasionally and that long term use can make your body stop making its own melatonin and they site other warnings.

I just wanted your feedback on the 10 mg dosage, which is considered the maximum and if you can give any advice on how else to treat insomnia since my primary care doctor was only able to prescribe sleeping pills, which I don’t believe in due to the dangers and dependency.

I much appreciate your feedback.
Julio M.

Dear Julio,

You can read lots of scary stories on the internet. Safety Call International, an adverse event and pharmaceutical toxicology lab, has investigated melatonin thoroughly. They produced a positive report on melatonin giving it a thumbs up, stating that up to 20 mg can be taken safely.

There was some erroneous conjecture that taking a melatonin would slow down the body’s production of it. But that assumption has been debunked. What really makes the body stop making melatonin is blue light, like that emitted from TVs and laptops. Laptops especially but also TVs should not be used in the bedroom before sleep. Melatonin is produced in the body when it is dark and blue light makes the body think it’s still daytime.

Melatonin can only do so much and work stress should be handled somehow. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress. I recommend a good exercise routine after work but before dinner. Yoga is a great way to reduce stress and increase GABA levels, which calm the brain.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

How do I protect my tinnitus from harsh medications?

Hi Barry,

I have a sinus infection that hasn’t responded to my usual round of Augmentin, and my physician wants me to start doxycycline or clindamycin, of which both are known to worsen tinnitus.

I’m currently taking NAC 1200 mg twice a day, along with Arches Tinnitus Formula (2 capsules twice a day), but still have a fear of losing more hearing and/or worsening of tinnitus. In fact, my tinnitus level has increased just worrying about this.

Do you think that the NAC and ATF will protect me adequately? Is there anything else that you would add?

The antibiotic regimen will be for 10 days. If my tinnitus does increase while taking the antibiotic, is there a reasonable chance that it would go back down after finishing the antibiotic? This is a major dilemma, as you know for many of us living with this awful malady.

I highly value your wisdom and advice, and appreciate you very much! I always look forward to your answers!

David F.

Hi David,

Thanks for your question. It is very important and prompted me to investigate further.

You are on the right track. NAC and Arches Tinnitus Formula will help protect your hearing from deterioration and worsening tinnitus. It may be all you need but to make sure let’s add some extra protection to it.

Antioxidants are the answer to protecting hearing from ototoxic agents. The more antioxidants the better. I have reviewed a paper from the International Journal of Otolaryngology relevant to antioxidants that protect against ototoxicity. I will give a shortened version and what I recommend.

You should add to your regimen Vitamin C (2,000 mg), L-Methionine (at least 1,000 mg), Alpha Lipoic Acid (1200 – 1500 mg) and Ubiquinol (200 – 300 mg). All of these are found in local health food stores or online and are quite inexpensive except the Ubiquinol. Ubiquinol is the active form of CoEnzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and is a much more absorbable form than regular CoQ10 which uses ubiquinone. I read a clinical trial where investigators stopped cochlear damage in laboratory animals exposed to ototoxic medications using CoQ10. It is a little more expensive than the rest but really worth it.

I would start on this regimen immediately and continue for at least a week or two after the last of the antibiotic is taken. This should really protect your hearing. If your tinnitus does seem worse, it will subside after a while. I have had a couple of run-ins with ototoxic meds and antioxidants have always returned my tinnitus to normal.

I hope all goes well and you clear up the infection.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

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