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Tinnitus Library

Ask Barry: February 2009

Do you have questions about tinnitus, our products or specific treatments? Ask Barry. Arches President Barry Keate will select the most representative questions each month publication. Regardless all questions will receive a personal reply from Barry.

ASK BARRY Tinnitus expert, Barry Keate, answers your questions about Tinnitus Send your question to:  Ask Barry

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NOTE: Ask Barry is pleased to be able to answer your questions based upon the information we have available. Our answers to your email inquiries are not substitutes for a physician's advice nor are they reviewed by a physician. If you are under a physician's care, please share with your doctor any suggestions you have received from Ask Barry.

This month's questions:

If my parents have tinnitus will I get it too?

Dear Barry,

Both my parents have tinnitus in both of their ears for the last 30 years or more. I am 53 and now and then I get ringing, usually in my right ear. It doesn’t last long, but it is there.

My question is: should I start on a supplement for tinnitus before I actually get tinnitus?

Thanks, Darece Santa Monica, CA

Dear Darece,

It certainly would not hurt to take Arches Tinnitus Relief Formula proactively to prevent tinnitus. It is well documented that Ginkgo biloba extract improves hearing and is otoprotective, or protective of hearing. The anti-oxidant and circulation enhancing effects of ginkgo help reduce damage to the cochlea. If you do this, I suggest a dosage half of that taken by tinnitus sufferers. Two capsules daily should be enough.

In some cases tinnitus can be genetically passed on from parent to child. While they are less prevalent than other causes such as hearing loss, it does exist and is being studied and discussed.

There are other supplements that are very helpful in preserving hearing. Dr. Seidman, in his book, “Save Your Hearing Now” lists 10 vitamins and supplements that are necessary for proper hearing. These are: Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALC), Glutathione, CoQ10, Vitamin B Complex, Lecithin, N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), Quercetin, Resveratrol and Zinc. This book is a groundbreaking work and the only book I am aware of that offers a detailed discussion of how to preserve hearing and is available in our Tinnitus Bookstore.

The supplement I would highly recommend from this list is NAC. It has been found to preserve hearing even after acoustic trauma, provided it is taken immediately afterward. The US Navy is beginning to use NAC for its personnel who are subjected to high noise levels. NAC is very inexpensive and can be found in most health food stores. I recommend 500-1,000 mg taken twice daily.

And, of course, protect your hearing by avoiding loud sounds. When necessary, wear ear plugs to dampen the sound of lawnmowers, leaf blowers, motorcycles, etc.

Wishing you quiet times, Barry Keate

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Stretched like a cat and her tinnitus came back.

Dear Barry,

My tinnitus was gone for four months. I had a back massage, and then I did a cat-like stretch and I put my head backwards, and the tinnitus came back bad as well as pulsatile tinnitus which had gone away also. I'm usually so careful with my neck, as it seems to always be in the neck and upper shoulder muscles.

I read on the internet about a place in Florida, that uses a technique that they say is popular in Europe. I wondered if you have ever heard of it or know anything about it. The name is Advanced Energy Medicine and they use Low Level Laser Therapy. They do an MRI or CT as part of the evaluation, and over a 10 day period administer the laser treatments.

I appreciate any input you might be able to give me about this treatment. Do you have any suggestions about the tinnitus being activated by my neck and muscles of my upper shoulders?

Thank you very much, and best wishes.

Sincerely, Ellen

Dear Ellen,

I have heard from a number people who had treatment at Advanced Energy Medicine and have not received favorable feedback. I don’t believe this will be helpful for two reasons. First, I don’t believe this treatment is helpful for restoring hearing loss, the primary cause of tinnitus. Second, I don’t think this is your problem anyway.

I believe you may have a neuromuscular dysfunction that is either pinching a nerve or dramatically reducing blood flow into the cochlea. There can be many causes for this, including TMJ dysfunction or other neuromuscular problems. This may be good news in the sense that these problems can be diagnosed and treated by the proper health care professional whereas hearing loss is pretty much permanent. The fact that it was gone for four months, then returned when you stretched, indicates the problem is not in the cochlea.

We published an article on TMJ dysfunction, which is found in our Tinnitus Library. Please read through this to determine if you think it applies to you. If you suspect that it does, an examination by a dentist trained in TMJ dysfunction can determine if this is the case or not and, if it is, treatment can begin. At the end of the article is a link to a website where you can find a TMJ specialist in your area.

If it is not TMJ dysfunction, I suggest you visit a Neurologist or Osteopath who specializes in neuromuscular problems. These specialists can be found in your local phone directory or referred by your family physician.

I have also heard good things about Naprapathy for this condition. Naprapathy is a branch of complementary medicine that focuses on the evaluation and treatment of neuro-musculoskeletal conditions. Doctors of Naprapathy (naprapaths) are connective tissue specialists, but are not Doctors of Medicine and are not equivalent to those that hold the MD degree. Naprapathic treatment consists of manipulative techniques, adjunctive (additional) treatments, and nutritional counseling.

One customer of ours recently stated that he had tinnitus due to a strained neck muscle and after one naprapathic treatment his tinnitus was reduced by 50%.

Wishing you quiet times, Barry Keate

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Twitching and Fluttering

Dear Barry,

I have had tinnitus for about a year and a half now. It is a 24/7 issue for me with the intensity varying. I do not have any hearing loss or other ear condition that has been identified to date.

Recently (within the last 4 weeks) I have developed what I would describe as a "twitching or fluttering" type sound or feeling in my ears. This is something new and never before experienced. Would this be related to my tinnitus condition? Have you heard of this before in others who have tinnitus? It seems to be occurring at different times through out the day as well as at night.

Any information you might be able to provide would be most appreciated.

Thank you, Susan Kruse

Dear Susan,

Tinnitus without hearing loss can be attributed to a number of causes. It can be attributed to endocrine causes, such as hypothyroidism, ototoxic medications, mood disorders and many others. It is impossible to evaluate without a complete physical. I suggest you have your thyroid hormones checked. If this is the cause, you can reduce or eliminate tinnitus fairly quickly. An article on Thyroid Dysfunction and Tinnitus can be found in our Tinnitus Library.

Likewise, the fluttering sound you have recently experienced, can have a number of causes. Typically they are not related directly to tinnitus. It can be a spasm of the tensor tympani muscle, which is located above the auditory canal. It’s primary purpose is to reduce sounds such as from chewing. It could also be related to an increase in fluid volume in the vestibular canals, which control balance, patulous eustachian tube, eye irritation or anxiety. As you can see, these conditions are not related to tinnitus and can be treated.

I think you should have a thorough work-up by an ENT to determine the cause of the fluttering.

Wishing you quiet times, Barry Keate

NOTE: "Ask Barry" is pleased to be able to answer your questions based upon the information we have available. Our answers to your email inquiries are not substitutes for a physician's advice nor are they reviewed by a physician. If you are under a physician's care, please share with your doctor any suggestions you have received from Ask Barry.