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Tinnitus Library

Ask Barry - February 2012

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:

Full Ear could mean Meniere’s or TMJ

Dear Barry,

I have been living with supposedly tinnitus for the past several years. I am 57 years old and had three episodes of vertigo, Meniere’s disease, dizziness spells, in a two year period. After my third episode, a few months later, I started getting some slight ringing in my left ear. It got worse and saw an ENT specialist, had two audiology tests which showed only a minor hearing loss in left ear. The problem is that my right ear constantly aches and sometimes the right side of my face hurts and it goes down the right side of my neck. The ringing and fullness in my ears is constant and it seems to be getting worse.

I've tried the Tinnitus Formula, ginkgo, zinc, just about everything, quitting caffeine, alcohol, etc. Tonight as I write this my right ear hurts and when I press on it, it is tender. Do you think there could be something else causing my ringing, like sinus problems? I've had sinus trouble for the past few years. Any help would be appreciated.

Tired of ringing,

Gail

Dear Gail,

Yes, I think there is something else contributing to your tinnitus. Fullness in the ear can have several causes including Meniere's disease and Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) dysfunction. I believe your ENT would have spotted Meniere's, if it is there.

There's a strong likelihood that you are suffering from TMJ. This is a condition where the lower jaw is not correctly hinged into the skull. An easy test for this is to look in a mirror. Fully relax your face then slowly open your mouth and drop your jaw. If it goes sideways, you have TMJ dysfunction. If this is the case, a mouth guard used during the night should help align the jaw and relieve the symptoms. Your dentist should be able to fashion one for you.

My wife had a series of suspected sinus problems. She was in constant pain localized under her right eye. She went to an ENT, had a CT scan, and was told she had TMJ. The mouth guard she now uses has dramatically improved her condition.

Wishing you quiet times, Barry Keate

Latent Tinnitus from Military Service?

Dear Barry,

I spent 20 years in the military, my first seven as an Infantry soldier; the last 13 in an administration position. I would like to know if it is possible my tinnitus which, did not surface until years later was due to my infantry service? I did show high frequency hearing loss but didn't develop tinnitus until a few years after retiring. I was told by the VA that I could not prove that the hearing loss and tinnitus was service related. While I know there are lots of variables that play into the tinnitus what would be your opinion on the tinnitus I developed after years of service?

Thanks, Gerald A.

Dear Gerald,

I believe it is possible for tinnitus to appear after a long period of time. Hearing loss is cumulative and builds with each exposure to loud noise. Also, as we age we acquire a slowly building hearing loss that is called presbycusis.

So, it is quite possible, perhaps even probable, that the majority of hearing loss occurred during your seven years as an infantry soldier. Then over the years, additional hearing loss occurred that finally tipped the balance and led to tinnitus.

This is how I developed my tinnitus. I was in the Army reserve in the early 1960’s, when hearing protection was not provided on the firing range. Several years later I developed my tinnitus.

Wishing you quiet times, Barry Keate

Hearing Device Solutions for Tinnitus

Dear Barry,

I recently had the wax removed from my ears and was also given a hearing test at local doctor's office. I have a mild hearing loss, and I have had tinnitus for as long as I can remember.  I am now 81.

The hearing test technician suggested that I try open-ear hearing aids to help with my mild hearing loss and possibly also the tinnitus. Might there be an advantage or disadvantage to trying this option?

I have been on your Formula for several months and the ringing has diminished. I do very much appreciate the improvement your formula has made possible.

Thank you,

Mary Gae G.

Dear Mary Gae,

I'm very happy our product has helped your tinnitus.

Hearing aids can be helpful for reducing tinnitus but it depends somewhat on the frequency of your tinnitus. High frequency tinnitus is not masked as well as middle range tinnitus. Although modern hearing aids are getting better at amplifying higher frequencies, in the past they have not been as good. This is an issue you should discuss with your audiologist.

There are other devices that can also be used. Tinnitus maskers generate a noise that is designed to be more pleasant than tinnitus and helps take the mind off it. Tinnitus instruments are probably the best. They combine a hearing aid with a tinnitus masker. Most people who use these have more success than with only a hearing aid.

Wishing you quiet times, Barry Keate