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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.

November 2022 Ask Barry

Taking too much zinc for Tinnitus?

Hi Barry,

I just ordered my second set of 4 bottles of Arches Tinnitus Formula. Here is my question: Taking 4 capsules per day of your formula provides 30 mg of zinc. I also take 2 calcium capsules per day that contain 10 mg each of zinc so I am now receiving 50 mg per day. The RDA recommended dosage per day is 15 mg. Am I being over ‘zinc-ed’?

Robert H.

Dear Robert,

No, you are not getting too much zinc, but there is a caveat.

The RDA “minimums are the amount necessary to stay healthy. 50 mg of zinc per day is a therapeutic dose for the relief of tinnitus. We initially were going to have 50 mg in the daily dosage of Arches Tinnitus Formula but decided to reduce the amount precisely because of people like you who get zinc from other supplements. 50 mg zinc is not too much. So the caveat is that at this amount you should add small amounts of copper and manganese, as zinc competes with these minerals for absorption.

According to the National Institutes of Health adults may take 40mg daily without extra supplementation. Above this level, zinc should be taken with small amounts of copper and manganese. The general rule is to take 1-2 mg copper and 2-3 mg manganese for every 10 mg of zinc above a 40 mg daily dosage. Therefore, someone taking 50 mg zinc daily should also take 1-2 mg copper and 2-3 mg manganese. Many zinc supplements now add these two minerals.

Basic elemental zinc does not absorb well. Arches Tinnitus Formula uses the most easily absorbed form of zinc,  zinc picolinate.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

Will general anesthesia worsen Tinnitus?

Hi Mr. Barry,

I hope your well. Recently I went under a minor surgery for a muscle biopsy and was put under general anesthesia for about an hour or so. It’s been more than two weeks now and my tinnitus has become progressively louder. I’m not sure whether anesthesia has the effect to do this and I am very concerned as living with tinnitus in this volume is unbearable I tried to tell my doctor about this he said there’s no connection between the two. I’m very frightened if you have any experience about this matter please help me out.

Thank you,
Mohsin A.

Dear Mohsin,

Yes, anesthesia can cause an increase in tinnitus. You didn’t mention which drug you were given but many of them can cause an increase. I had an endoscopy last year and the doctor used propofol, which is very popular. My tinnitus increased for a few months and it was very scary. However it eventually returned to its lower level after I used N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) and Arches Tinnitus Formula. Other anesthetics will not cause this.

I’ve been recommending NAC for years as a way to prevent increased tinnitus due to noise exposure or ototoxic medications. I recommend you take NAC at the dosage of 2,000 mg per day, 1,000 in the morning and 1,000 in the evening. NAC can be found in most health food stores or online. It helps protect the ear from ototoxic medications.

I also recommend taking Arches Tinnitus Formula, 2 capsules in the morning and 2 in the evening. You must continue both of these for three months to determine efficacy. They are both very healthy and can be continued indefinitely if you like. Arches Tinnitus Formula should lower your tinnitus levels.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

My friend, Tinnitus

Dear Barry,

I took the four bottles of your Tinnitus Formula which I started back in March. I had one day that I had heard no hissing in my left ear. I gave up and said, “This is not working”. Later I ordered another bottle and gave it another try only to find out I am the same. Did I do something wrong to discontinue and then start over again. I went to my ENT and he said “There is nothing that can be done just live with it think of it as your friend.”

Well I am not too happy about what he said but maybe he is right. Could you give me some feed back as to what I should be doing? I also have positional vertigo that acts up twice a year and I have to go to the ENT doctor and he gives me the positional treatment which works. I also have TMJ which I wear a night guard at night and now I my dentist said to start wearing it during the day to see if that makes it any better.

Thanks for your time.
Joanne V.

Dear Joanne,

I strongly disagree with your Ear, Nose and Throat doctor saying there’s nothing that can be done. This is factually incorrect and the American Tinnitus Association has been trying for several years to discourage ENTs from saying this. While there is no cure, there are many alternative therapies that can be helpful for reducing tinnitus. Arches Tinnitus Formula is one but there are others.

I don’t know if you took the Tinnitus Formula continuously for the four bottles or only took a portion of it. It must be used continuously for 100 days (4 bottles), taking two capsules twice daily, before you can determine its total effectiveness. Starting and stopping will definitely not be helpful.

I suspect your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder may play a strong role in your tinnitus. A night guard worn only at night is a good idea but only the start of TMJ therapy. At the bottom of the above linked article are links to where you can find a TMJ specialist in your area. While these specialists come from the dental field, not all dentists are trained in TMJ therapy. Almost all the therapy options are painless and non-invasive. I think you should see a specialist in your area and go from there. You may find you can significantly reduce your tinnitus.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

October 2022 Ask Barry

Taking Taurine for Tinnitus

Hi Barry,

Does Taurine work for Tinnitus?

James B.

Dear James,

I looked into Taurine as a result of your question. I had not looked at this supplement previously and found that yes, it can be helpful for people with tinnitus, as well as for other conditions such as diabetes, obesity, atherosclerosis and epilepsy, among others.

Taurine is an amino acid the body produces from protein. It is found in meat, fish and dairy products. It is present in abundance in most humans but certain diets, including vegetarian and vegan, may leave a person with a diminished amount.Certain disease states can cause a deficiency of Taurine and aging people are often not able to produce an optimal amount, making supplementation vital.

Taurine plays a vital role in hearing and studies have found in some cases Taurine can reverse the biochemical process behind hearing loss. Much of the damage to hearing occurs not in the mechanical parts of the ear but in the nerve cells that convert sound waves into electrical energy that is sent to the auditory cochlea. These hair cells depend on the flow of calcium ions into and out of the cell. Taurine helps restore and control normal calcium ion flow in auditory nerve cells.

Taurine improves the hearing in animals exposed to ototoxic medications like the antibiotic gentamicin, which is notoriously toxic to hearing. Taurine may also be helpful in quieting tinnitus. Animal studies using a human equivalent dosage of 700 mg to 3.2 grams for several weeks demonstrate near-complete resolution of tinnitus. A small pilot study on humans showed encouraging results with 12% of people responding to Taurine.

Look for a more complete article on Taurine and tinnitus in a future issue of Quiet Times.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

Hearing Aids for Tinnitus

Hi Barry,

I have tinnitus and have for many years, in both ears, different tones in both. It’s a constant high pitched sound, in two different tones, one being higher pitched then the other. I have hearing loss after wearing an in-ear headset for work for more then 20 years.

The tinnitus causes additional hearing loss, I can’t hear a lot over these sounds and have to ask people to repeat themselves, have the tv turned up. I had a hearing test, the doctor blew me off and said I have decent hearing for someone my age. Is there a hearing aid type device that can help this? Maybe dull the tones enough that I can hear normally again?

Thank you,
Karen P.

Dear Karen,

There are hearing aids and other hearing instruments that can help with tinnitus. It is important to note that the effectiveness of hearing aids will depend on the frequency of the tinnitus. Hearing aids amplify ambient sounds and may block out tinnitus if it is in the mid range, where there is a lot of background sounds. They may not be as effective for those with higher frequency tinnitus, like you and me, because there is not enough background sounds at those frequencies to mask the tinnitus. My tinnitus is at 4,000 Hz. I have a pair of quite expensive hearing aids that don’t do a thing to reduce my tinnitus.

There are other devices that can help to reduce tinnitus. Bedside sound generators can be helpful in reducing tinnitus while trying to sleep. A simple test for this is to step into the shower with the water running. If it significantly reduces or completely masks your tinnitus, This may work for you. Sound generators can be switched between different sounds such as running brook, seaside surf, gentle rain, etc.

There are  numerous tinnitus sound apps for masking that you can download on your smart phone(many are free). One good example is the Resound Tinnitus Relief App. It offers numerous soundscapes that you can listen to in the background, and even mix and match multiple sounds at once depending on own tinnitus sounds. A basic search in you App store will show many others.

There are hearing aids that combine a masking sound to take attention away from the tinnitus sound. A good Audiologist should have access to several brands however they can be quite expensive. Widex, a hearing aid manufacturer has developed a device called the Widex Zen that does this.

There are also notched music devices and programs. These involve notching out the frequency of tinnitus from music clips. The result is the auditory nerves responding to the tinnitus frequency are not stimulated but are dampened.

Arches Tinnitus Formula (ATF) is very successful in reducing tinnitus sounds, especially for those whose tinnitus is caused by hearing loss, which is the most common cause. One prominent ENT states ATF is successful in reducing tinnitus in 75% to 80% of his patients who use it. It must be taken for 100 days before the full effect is seen so we recommend Arches Tinnitus Formula Starter Kit, a 100 day supply and has the probability of quieting your tinnitus significantly.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

How Glutamate and Glutamine affect Tinnitus

HI Barry,

I have read articles that say glutamate is the most abundant neurotransmitter in the human body and is believed to be heavily involved in memory and learning processes. glutamine is also believed to remove metabolic residue in the brain acting as a detox and improving brain function.

What is the difference between glutamine and glutamate? Is it safe to take glutamine if you have tinnitus? If glutamate is bad for tinnitus and Arches Tinnitus Formula blocks glutamate how does this affect GABA in the brain? Will taking GABA inhibit glutamate?

Darrel W.

Dear Darrell,

Glutamine and glutamate are both extremely important for human health. Both are amino acids (building blocks of protein) that humans derive from eating protein.

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body. The body can make enough glutamine for its regular needs. But during times of extreme stress (the kind you experience after heavy exercise or an injury), your body may need more glutamine than it can make. The best time to take a glutamine supplement is post-workout, usually 30 minutes within the workout. So yes, you can take glutamine. But since it is derived from protein, you don’t need supplements unless you are either protein deprived as some vegetarians can be or are do intense workouts and want to do body building.

Glutamate is responsible for carrying messages through the nervous system. It facilitates the flow of information to the brain. Glutamate is excitatory; it arouses nerve cell firing.

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is also an amino acid that functions as the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter for the central nervous system (CNS). It functions to reduce neuronal excitability by inhibiting nerve transmission. GABA is inhibitory so it slows down nerve firing and communication. Both glutamate and GABA must be in balance for a healthy nervous system.

The problem arises when nerve cells in the cochlea are damaged, such as by loud noise or toxic medications. These nerve cells release a flood of glutamate that overwhelms the GABA in the nervous system and causes nerve cells to continuously fire until they become depleted and die. This is called excitotoxicity.

Arches Tinnitus Formula inhibits excess glutamate and helps keep it in balance with GABA. This is one of the primary ways it reduces tinnitus sounds. Taking GABA supplements will also inhibit glutamate. This is also what benzodiazepine medications do, they prolong the use of existing GABA in the nervous system. Unfortunately they are very addictive and don’t work for long.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

September 2022 Ask Barry

Sounds like Somatic Tinnitus… But is it?

Dear Barry,

I have read your online column regarding tinnitus for many years. I have had tinnitus for 12 years. The tinnitus I experience changes every 2-3 days and it changes in my sleep. The volume goes up and down and when it is at its lowest it is very tolerable, but when it’s at its loudest it is drives me nuts. I believe you have described this as somatic tinnitus. Also, when I move my jaw in certain ways it will get louder.

Currently I am seeing a neurologist and he prescribed Neurontin (Gabapentin) 100 mg, two times a day. He also wants me to do a MRI, MRA, and a brain stem response test. I understand that these tests are quite noisy. I am very concerned and reluctant, that the noise from these tests could make my tinnitus permanently worse. I value your opinion, and I would like to hear your thoughts about my concerns, and any other thoughts you might have.

Very sincerely,
Dennis W.

Dear Dennis,

This does sound like somatic tinnitus to me. When tinnitus has wide fluctuations, somatic tinnitus is one of the first things to look for. The fact that moving your jaw increases your tinnitus indicates you may have some TMJ dysfunction, one of the primary causes of somatic tinnitus. TMJ dysfunction is when the jaw is out of alignment with the skull. Treatments for this condition are painless and non-invasive. Many ear doctors are not attuned to TMJ because it is in the domain of dentistry. At the end of the article is a link to the academy for TMJ specialists and a way to find one in your area.

Gabapentin is often used for tinnitus and 200 mg is a fairly low dose. However, if your tinnitus is due to TMJ, gabapentin won’t help. It is used to treat hyperactive neuronal connections due to hearing loss, which you don’t have.

MRI’s can be very noisy. The people that operate them know this and generally offer headsets for those who take the scan. I recommend taking along good quality ear plugs and making sure you have a headset over the plugs. This should be adequate to protect your hearing.

My advice is to check out the simplest possibility first. If this is indeed TMJ dysfunction, you can have that treated and should have considerable relief. I hope this is the case.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

Tinnitus Treatment for Vegans?

Hi Barry,

I have been vegetarian 25 years and vegan two. I stopped taking all supplements about one year ago and the ringing in my left ear started about three months ago, very intermittently, then stopped after about three weeks then started again about three weeks ago. It is much more constant but not awful.

I saw a local ENT doctor, had hearing test and was told I have mild hearing loss. He wants me to start Flonase for a month and then retake the hearing test.  I eat a very healthy plant based diet and have about two cups of coffee daily. What are your recommendations to treat tinnitus for vegans?

Thank you,
Bobbi O.

Dear Bobbi,

I don’t think being a vegan has anything to do with this issue. If your ENT wants you to try Flonase, he thinks you may have conductive hearing loss, possibly caused by Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD). This is a very common condition and can cause reversible hearing loss. He would have been able to determine you have conductive hearing loss, as opposed to sensorineural hearing loss, from the audiogram you were given. ETD is generally cleared up by the use of a prescription nasal spray, such as Flonase, sometimes combined with an antihistamine. I think the best course of action is to follow his advice and use the Flonase for 4 weeks. Hopefully the hearing loss and tinnitus will resolve.

In our Tinnitus Library we have an overview of hearing loss, which includes discussions on how to interpret audiograms and treat ETD.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

Trying Trileptal for Tinnitus

Hi Barry,

I spoke to my ENT doctor yesterday to discuss ways to help me cope with the loud tinnitus I am experiencing. He indicated that while medications will not get rid of the tinnitus it could make it much easier to cope. One medication that he mentioned was Trileptal and wanted me to try it for a month to see if there was any benefit. Have you ever heard of Trileptal for tinnitus? Any reply, if possible, is appreciated. Thanks Barry.

Ed S.

Dear Ed,

Trileptal is an anti-seizure medication and may have a positive influence on tinnitus. It has long been known that tinnitus is an epileptic-like condition of the auditory pathway and anti-seizure medications can help. We published an article on brain receptors and tinnitus that discusses this.

The problem with some of these medications is the side effects. Most people taking Trileptal will not experience strong side effects, but significant numbers will. Up to 31% of people using it will have headaches, 28% will have dizziness, 22% nausea.

I hope you have good success using Trileptal and do not have serious side effects. Please let me know how it works for you.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

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