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.

September 2021 Ask Barry

Which COVID Vaccine is better for Tinnitus?

Hi Barry,

I regularly read your newsletter so wondered if you could give me some advice. As a tinnitus sufferer for many years, I’m concerned about taking any of the COVID vaccines as I think it may make my tinnitus worse. Is there anything I can do in order to reduce the risk of my tinnitus getting worse if I agree to the COVID jab?

Kind regards,
Loretta P.

Dear Loretta,

First, all indications are that getting tinnitus from any vaccine is very rare. There have been several reports that COVID-19 may cause tinnitus and the vaccine might also cause it. Since the disease and the vaccination are so new, there haven’t been any clinical trials on this and the incidence at which it may occur.

There are some indications however, that give us a rough idea of the very low incidence rate of the vaccine causing tinnitus.

The US Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting database cites 152 reports of tinnitus among 25,072 recipients of vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. This represents about 0.6% of this adverse event occurring. A UK database of Astrazeneca and Pfizer vaccines reports for 54,180 recipients, there were 320 tinnitus reports. This represents a 0.59% incidence of tinnitus in this database.

These are self-reported cases of tinnitus so it may be somewhat underreported. However, even if it is only half of the cases occurring with the vaccines, the incidence would still be about 1.2%.

The vaccine is safe and should be taken as quickly as possible to protect you from the highly infectious Delta variant. The consequences of coming down with COVID-19 are very serious and can be life-threatening.

To reduce the chances of worsening your tinnitus you can take N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) and Ginkgo Max 26/7®, the special Ginkgo biloba, found in Arches Tinnitus Formula. Take 1,000 mg of NAC daily and 480 mg of Ginkgo daily starting a couple of weeks before the vaccination and continuing for at least a month after.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

The ringing progresses…

Hi Barry,

I am 61 years old. I worked for a place that built office furniture for about 30 years. The last 20 years or so, we were required to use hearing protection. Anyway about ten years ago, I started having problems with ringing in the ears. As the years progressed, so did the ringing. I have been to a couple doctors that told me to learn to live with it. It is now to the point that its hard to live with. I can’t get a good nights sleep. Sometimes I feel that I’m going crazy. I have been told that you have helped people like me. I would appreciate help or advise that you might give. I feel like if I were to ever overcome ringing in the ears, it would change my whole life!

Thanks,

Robert S.

Dear Robert,

I’m sorry the tinnitus has been so bad for you. I understand how it can drive you crazy; I used tranquilizers for 3-4 years trying to stay calm.

I generally recommend melatonin to help in sleeping well. Generally, 10-20 mg of time-release melatonin will keep me asleep all night long. Take 1-2 hours before bed. Also GABA supplements can be helpful during the day. Start with 500-750 mg twice daily. After one week, evaluate how effective it is and increase dosage if necessary. GABA acts as a tranquilizer so be very careful driving or operating equipment. Both Melatonin and GABA can be found in better health food stores and are quite inexpensive.

You may also be helped by a bedside sound generator. These produce a variety of soothing sounds. Find one that generates water sounds; falling rain, bubbling brook, ocean, etc. The sound of water has been shown to be the most effective tinnitus masker.

Melatonin and GABA will eventually become less effective. For the long term, I recommend Arches Tinnitus Formula. Each bottle is a 25 day supply and you must use it for at least 3 months before evaluating how helpful it will be. I recommend 4 bottles used in succession. At the end of that time, your tinnitus should be decreased considerably. After that, you must continue to use it to maintain low sounds.

Some things to avoid. Salt is a major aggravator of tinnitus. It is very important to reduce salt intake as much as possible and drink lots of water. Stay away from soda, especially diet soda. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used in diet sodas and it causes neurological damage. High glycemic foods, such as simple sugars and refined carbohydrates should be avoided. Many people find relief after they reduce their intake of salt and simple sugars.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

Doing the next right thing for her Tinnitus

Hi, Barry,

I just read about others and their problems and it helped me. I found out that cutting out the salt and down on sugars could help me a lot. I do take Plavix, Rythmol, Lipitor, Lisino, and asprin. So it’s little wonder my ears ring and hiss. I too have been woken at night from the ringing, and I have noticed that after eating something sweet or salty it’s worse. I don’t know if I could take your Arches Combo Pack, but I will ask my doctor. I will start taking Omega-3.

Thank you so much. I’ll be back and let you know what happens.

Susie

Dear Susie,

Rythmol and Lipitor are on the list of medications that can cause tinnitus. They each cause tinnitus in only 2% of people who use them. Aspirin causes tinnitus also, but generally only in very high doses. These may or may not be the cause of yours.

Plavix is a blood thinner as is Ginkgo biloba in Arches Tinnitus Formula. These should not be mixed unless under the supervision of your prescribing physician. There are no counter-indications but they are additive. Generally, a physician may lower the dosage of Plavix to compensate for the blood thinning properties of ginkgo. There are no other concerns with the medications you’re taking.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

August 2021 Ask Barry

Artificial Sweeteners and Tinnitus

Hi Barry,

You were talking about staying away from the artificial sweetener Aspartame, etc. What about Splenda? I don’t use a lot but some on my cereal in the morning… Is this a problem for my tinnitus?

Thanks
Linda B.

Dear Linda,

The sugar alternative Splenda, generic name sucralose, is not a natural compound. It is made by chlorinating sugar. Chlorine replaces some of the hydroxyl groups in sugar. It can be made without sugar in the beginning by using compounds derived from beans, onions and other plants. Some chlorinated molecules serve as the basis of many pesticides such as DDT. These compounds accumulate in the liver and kidneys and are very difficult to clear from the body.

Aspartame (sold as NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful and Indulge) is widely used and is marketed to those who are overweight or diabetic, because it does not contain sugar. However, it is an excitatory neurotransmitter which causes neurons to become hyper-excited and drains them of nutrients until they wither and die. Aspartame excites brain neurons and increase levels of electrical activity in the brain and the auditory cortex, the area where tinnitus is perceived.

While Splenda is not a neurotoxin like Aspartame, it does have many side effects. There has not been one single study conducted on long term health effects on people using Splenda. But animal tests reviewed by the FDA uncovered side-effects as a result of eating sucralose. The FDA witnessed damage to the immune system, including shrunken thymus glands and decreased white blood cell counts, enlarged livers, enlarged kidneys, and low birth weight in the animal studies they reviewed.

Perhaps a better sugar substitute would be Xylitol or Stevia.

Xylitol was developed by the Finns during WWII due to sugar shortages and is manufactured from the husks of vegetable matter. It is about as sweet as table sugar with a third less calories and a low glycemic index. This means it is slowly absorbed from the digestive tract so it does not produce a rapid rise in blood sugar and is safe for diabetics.

While sugars tend to promote the growth of bacteria, Xylitol has been proven to inhibit their growth. It has been shown to be effective in preventing dental cavities by inhibiting the primary bacteria responsible for decay. It can be found in some toothpastes and chewing gums. A major cause of ear infections is a bacteria closely related to the one responsible for dental cavities. Knowing this, Finnish scientists tested 306 children with a history of ear infections. They were able to reduce these infections by half using xylitol sweetened gum. Xylitol looks like sugar, tastes like sugar and is classified as a sugar alcohol. Both the FDA and the World Health Organization have given it safe ratings as a food supplement.

Stevia is a highly sweet herb derived from the leaf of the South American stevia plant. It is completely safe in its natural form and can be used to sweeten most dishes and drinks. Stevia is different from the sugar substitute Truvia, which is derived from the same plant but uses only certain active ingredients, not the whole plant. Because the synergistic effect of all the compounds in the plant provides the overall health effect, Truvia is not as healthful as Stevia.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

GABA for tinnitus?

Hi Barry,

I recently heard that GABA supplements can be helpful for tinnitus. Is this true?

Thanks,
Richard

Dear Richard,

I believe GABA supplements can help tinnitus. GABA receptors in the brain are inhibitory receptors; they slow down electrical activity. It is well known that people with tinnitus have an elevated level of electrical activity in the auditory cortex. Activating GABA receptors slows this activity. We published an article about research in this area a couple of years ago. The researchers used the prescription medication Neurontin, which is known generically as gabapentin. Gabapentin activates the GABA receptors in much the same way as GABA supplements. It has been used in the past as an anti-seizure medication for people suffering from epilepsy and similar disorders.

Anecdotally, I have heard from several people who have combined GABA supplements with Arches Tinnitus Formula. They tell me the GABA supplements enhance the ability of Arches Tinnitus Formula to reduce tinnitus and calm the mind.

It should be noted that GABA acts much like a prescription tranquilizer, without the addictive properties. If you take enough, it will make you drowsy and slow reaction time. I took 1500 mg twice daily for a couple of weeks. After several days I found myself dozing off at my desk in the middle of the day. People taking GABA should be very careful when driving or operating machinery. GABA is not something that can be used indefinitely; over time, the effect is reduced. However, it can be helpful in the early stages of treatment with Arches Tinnitus Formula.

GABA supplements are available in better health food stores and are fairly inexpensive.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

Phantom pressure in the ear?

Hi Barry,

I have been loyal to Arches Tinnitus Formula since the onset of my tinnitus. For 2 years now I am a tinnitus patient. My question is in two parts:

I have had bad fullness/pressure in my ears for 2 months now. After an appointment with an ENT, he examined me and said there was no indication of infection, blockage, or irritation in my ears, nose and throat. He said that he didn’t know what was causing the pressure in my Eustachian tubes. Do you know of any remedies to relieve this? I have not been in any altitude or pressure changes for 7 months.

He said I had quite a bit of ear wax in my ear. He attempted to remove it with a long, metal stick that really hurt my ear canal. I actually screamed and pulled away. I have heard many horror stories of people getting tinnitus from sticking things in their ears. Do you think he exacerbated my tinnitus from this? How do people get tinnitus from sticking objects into their ear canal when tinnitus is a disorder of the middle ear?

Always thanking you,
Luana

Dear Luana,

To answer your first question, you probably have some inflammation in your Eustachian tube. Inflammation can be caused by many things including infection, blockage and allergies.

It’s possible the fullness is simply generic inflammation. Inflammation is rampant in our society and causes many diseases. You may have seen the article we published on Omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil. I have determined to use fish oil forever.

Fish oil will take quite a while to reduce inflammation. In the short term, pain relievers may work. They relieve pain by reducing inflammation and are called NSAID for Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammation Drugs. Such medications as aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen fall into this category. Be careful of ibuprofen; when I take it my tinnitus goes through the roof.

To your second question, I don’t believe he exacerbated your tinnitus. If he did, you would have known it by now. I have also heard many horror stories about removing ear wax. It is possible but highly unlikely that this procedure would cause or worsen tinnitus. Generally speaking, it doesn’t unless you perforate an ear drum, which usually does not cause tinnitus anyway.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

July 2021 Ask Barry

Giving ginkgo a go… again?

Hi Barry,

Thought I might give the Gingko another go. Have you any experience with someone not responding to it, then responding some time later? I presently take 40 mg Lipitor, 25 mg Metropolol, .5 mg Clonazepam and .4 mg Flomax. All, l time daily. I stopped my anti-depressant after a year and gained needed weight and feel better, but the ringing did not subside.

It seems now, when loud noises occur the ringing goes up much quicker than it recedes, and I don’t think it recedes to the level it was before the loud noise. But I can’t live in a soundproof chamber. Let me know what you think, and what is the minimum amount I should try, if I should try at all. I have heard Memantine can be helpful, but can’t get any of my doctors to let me try it. Problem is, even in a city the size I live in, there are no doctors really knowledgeable on tinnitus.

Best regards,
Jim P.

Hi Jim,

Yes, it’s possible that you could have a more effective reaction. Clinically, there’s no doubt that the ingredients in Arches Tinnitus Formula, ginkgo, zinc and odor-controlled garlic are helpful in reducing tinnitus and restoring healthy chemistry to the auditory pathway. Anecdotally we have seen individuals respond to our product after 6 or more months, though we recommend trying it for 3 months.

I think that a combination therapy may be useful. Arches Tinnitus Formula in conjunction with another therapy may be more effective than either one by itself. There are many things that can be used for tinnitus. Gabapentin has been shown to reduce symptoms for many as has Melatonin. Gabapentin (trademarked as Neurontin) has been studied in combination with Klonopin by Dr. Abraham Shulman and has been shown to reduce symptoms for most people.

Neurontin has some side effects and about 30% of those in Dr. Shulman’s trial decided to discontinue due to those effects. A very similar product is available over-the-counter from health food stores and sold as GABA (gamma amino butyric acid). GABA and Neurontin both activate the GABA receptors in the brain, which are inhibitory receptors. They slow down excess electrical activity in the auditory cortex. We have heard from a few people that GABA supplements in conjunction with ATF have reduced the noise significantly.

There have been studies done with melatonin that show it also reduces symptoms. I came across interesting studies at the University of St. Louis where they were conducting trials with gabapentin and rTMS, as well as on Melatonin and Memantine.

I have a couple of comments on their reports. They discuss using 3 mg Melatonin. My own personal experience is 5-10 mg two hours before bedtime is great for inducing a good night’s sleep.

They report that gabapentin was well tolerated while Dr. Shulman reports a 30% drop out rate due to side effects. I think the difference is the people in St. Louis were using 900 mg while Dr. Shulman started at 900 mg and went up to 2700 mg if necessary.

In the Memantine discussion, they mention it is antiglutamatergic and that’s why it’s effective. This means Memantine inhibits the production and action of glutamate. Ginkgo biloba does the same thing! It is an effective glutamate antagonist and a powerful antioxidant within the ear. The combination of the two should be very effective if used together.

Hopefully, a combination therapy will be more efficacious than any particular one.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

Tinnitus caused by medication?

Hi Barry,

I started taking Ultram last year due to a herniated disk at L5/S1. It really helps the pain but, since last January, I’ve been experiencing the hissing sound of tinnitus in my right ear. My left ear has only had a touch of this but I wonder if it will get worse over time.

My pharmacist said that the medicine that I’ve been prescribed could very well have caused or, at least, contributed greatly to the tinnitus. Do you have any information connecting this particular medication to tinnitus?

I appreciate your newsletter and I want you to know that you’re doing a good thing by bringing this information to the masses. It lets all of us that have this problem know that we’re not “crazy” or imagining things. Thank you so much.

Warm Regards,
Stacy P.

Dear Stacy,

Thank you for your kind words. This job brings a lot of satisfaction to me, especially when I receive feedback like yours.

Ultram can cause or worsen tinnitus in less than 1% of people. This sounds small, but if you’re in that 1%, you don’t care that the other 99% didn’t get it. I recommend you discuss with your doctor whether there’s another, equally effective, painkiller without the possible side effect of tinnitus. You can view a list of prescription drugs that cause tinnitus .

Studies show that those people who have tinnitus primarily in one ear and who have had it for less than one year respond much better to Ginkgo biloba. One researcher stated that not only should all people with tinnitus use Ginkgo but they should begin as soon as symptoms are present. Our proprietary ginkgo, Ginkgo Max 26/7 is one of the primary ingredients in Arches Tinnitus Formula.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

Where’s the tinnitus cure?

Barry,

I just saw (in a pop-up) and see you “recovered” from Tinnitus!?!? I didn’t know it was possible. I am tired of spending money from my SS on “cures”….nothing has helped me.. I don’t know WHEN or HOW it started… but it’s been YEARS… and YES, I’m yelling!!!!

Sorry… I went to 2 audiologists within a 5 year span (some years ago). Both said the same thing: nerve damage…..?? From what?? Loud noise, heavy metal bands? Medication? I am laughing right now… I hope you are. I have made the comment that tinnitus will follow me to the coffin. BUT, in my heart, I’m still looking for help… these $9.99, $39.99, “cures” add up, and yes, I AM worth the money but I am on a limited income and barely make a go of life at this point… I take synthroid (slow metabolism for over 10 years now). I recently heard that it can “cause” tinnitus.  I shouldn’t have told you that, as it gives you an “excuse” for my T!!! If your truly interested in helping people, I am sure I will hear from you.

Maryann

Dear Maryann,

Certainly people can recover from tinnitus, just as I have. That’s not to say there’s a cure, there is no cure for tinnitus. When we say recovery, we mean managing the condition to reduce the sound so we can continue with our lives. Tinnitus is no longer in the front and center of our consciousness but more in the background. So when anyone advertises a “cure”, know that this is impossible and it’s probably a scam.

There are many therapies that help people reduce tinnitus sounds. Proper diet and exercise are very important. Researchers have found that close to 90% of people with tinnitus have a sugar metabolism disorder known as Hyperinsulinemia. This simply means an elevated insulin level in the blood. They conducted a clinical study and put these people on a diet suitable for diabetics; low sugar, low refined carbohydrates, eating every three hours. Over two years, 76% had improvement in their tinnitus.

Reducing salt and exercising regularly are very helpful for people with tinnitus. There are medical therapies that help people such as tinnitus masking, Tinnitus Retraining Therapy, cochlear implants and some prescription medications. New therapies are being developed that have great promise. Electrical and magnetic stimulation have shown some positive results in clinical trials. Many of these therapies can be found in the Tinnitus Library.

I don’t know what you meant by the phrase “giving me an excuse for your tinnitus”. Sometimes, if we can find the cause, there is something that can be done. The Synthroid did not give you tinnitus but quite probably your underactive thyroid did. Hypothyroidism is a known cause of tinnitus.

Arches Tinnitus Formulas are helpful for most people in reducing, but not curing, tinnitus symptoms. Darius Kohan MD, a specialist in otologic surgery and a faculty member at several major medical centers, states regarding his patients with tinnitus due to sensorineural hearing loss: “Arches Tinnitus Formula doesn’t work with everybody, but works with about 75% to 80% of these patients. Arches Tinnitus Formula is a safe and benign treatment that we initiate for patients.”

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

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