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Tinnitus Library

Ask Barry - July 2006

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:

Neuromonics for tinnitus?

Hi Barry, I was recently told about a treatment for tinnitus called Neuromonics. I believe it originated in Australia. Are you familiar with this treatment? I'd appreciate any information about its effectiveness since it is quite expensive and requires a 6 month commitment.

Thanks. M. Sussman

Dear M. Sussman, Neuromonics is a relatively new therapy based on Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT). It uses musical recordings as a way to desensitize tinnitus aggravation. The music is played loud enough to mask tinnitus and listened to for 2 hours per day. It is gradually reduced and the researchers believe that tinnitus patients become desensitized to their tinnitus. It is supposedly an improvement on TRT in that it is faster and not as intensive.

There are many people who may be helped by this but many who won't be able to continue with the six month commitment, as is the case with TRT.

There are other sound-based therapies available. One that we have written about is called Sound Based Tinnitus Therapy. It is available from the Tinnitus Control Center in New York City. In this therapy, an individual's tinnitus is exactly duplicated by sophisticated electronic gear. It is matched perfectly to the pitch and intensity of tinnitus. This sound is then phase-shifted to be out of phase with the original sound and recorded onto a CD. This produces a sound canceling effect that reduces tinnitus intensity. The patient takes the CD home and listens to it in 30 minute intervals on a high quality stereo system.

I am not the best judge of neuromonics because I don't have any direct experience of it nor have I spoken with anyone who has had the treatment. It will be something that you should decide. If you decide to enroll in their program, I will be very interested in the results. Please let me know how well it works for you.

Wishing you quiet times, Barry Keate

High Altitude Tinnitus?

Barry, I have had tinnitus for almost 2 years. I am considering climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa. Is the extremely high altitude something that I should worry about with my tinnitus? Could this make my condition worse?

Marty Pittsburgh, PA

Dear Marty, Pressure changes have an effect on some people’s tinnitus but not all. In my case, pressure changes do not make any difference. I have heard from some people that their tinnitus is somewhat dependent on the weather; when a storm approaches and the pressure drops, their tinnitus improves or worsens. I have heard from many that their tinnitus improves with lower pressure.

It is impossible to say what will happen with you. A good indicator may be what happens when a storm approaches or you go to a higher altitude but lower than Mt. Kilimanjaro. Have you been to Denver or a high elevation ski resort? If so, try and remember if you noticed a change. Taking off in an airplane reduces pressure. Has this affected you before? If you haven’t had previous bad experiences from low pressure, you’ll probably be just fine.

Earplugs help to equalize pressure and slow pressure changes in the Eustachian tube so it can vent properly.

Wishing you quiet times, Barry Keate

The anguish of tinnitus

Dear Barry, I have been in great distress for some time and do not know how much longer I will be able to cope. This is due to Tinnitus.

I am horrified to be forced to accept a huge ignorance throughout medicine regarding Tinnitus. I am experimenting with tinctures and herbs to try to find something that helps. Nothing does. I was admitted on a couple of occasions to hospital with Renal Colic. After much ado and after much suffering, frustration and exasperation the doctors found I had a mal-formed left kidney, which functions at less than 10%.

In mid 2005 the dramatic effect on my health my urological issues had were about to be dwarfed by the very worst experience of my life. Tinnitus. I have been on the verge of a nervous breakdown a number of times this year as this hugely debilitating condition worsened. Your website is only one of many sources I have uncovered during my personal quest for answers.

Today I am in tears. The ringing in my ears is very high-pitched prevents me from sleeping, eating, reading, going out or talking on the phone. I am to receive a masker from ENT at some point in the next couple of months but I doubt if it will help that much. My own alternating periods of eager research followed by disinclined despair are an endless cycle now, which serve to compound my misery. I have stopped smoking, drinking alcohol (it hurts me now anyway due to the urological issue), and drinking coffee. These all make it worse.

Are you able to offer some insight into tinnitus and how people deal with it? I am desperate and clutching at straws. I would be eternally grateful if you were able to offer any opinions on this that I may have missed.

Yours sincerely Michael Allan

Dear Michael, I’m very distressed to hear of your condition. I hope I have something positive to contribute. Any issue that affects our general health also affects tinnitus. With this in mind, please complete the tests to find out if you can resolve the condition of your kidney.

Tinnitus is a very difficult condition to work with, as I’m sure you know. Stress is the #1 aggravator of tinnitus so if you can get your stress levels under control, the tinnitus will improve. I know this is much more difficult than simply saying it but there are therapies that will accomplish this. Stress will turn a level 3 tinnitus (on a scale of 10) to a level 7 or higher. Reducing the stress will alleviate it.

Both Biofeedback and Hypnotherapy may be useful. I believe Acupuncture can also be helpful. These therapies take time but are very effective in lowering stress levels.

Diet is extremely important in this regard. Much of our food is contaminated with added chemicals, flavor enhancers and artificial sweeteners. Many of these have been shown to cause tinnitus. Please see our article on Diet and Tinnitus.

Overweight people typically find their tinnitus improves when they increase their exercise regimen and lose the extra weight.

Some prescription medications are effective. I recommend you ask your ENT about a prescription for a benzodiazepine anti-anxiety medication, such as Klonopin. This will help you relax and sleep better. It is of the utmost importance to get a good night’s sleep. I recommend pretty much anything that helps you sleep, even if you have to knock yourself out with medications. Sleeplessness will only aggravate the tinnitus more.

The prescription medications Neurontin and Campral have been shown to help many people with tinnitus. Please see "Brain Receptors and Tinnitus" and the second answer from a previous Ask Barry column. Please show these articles to your doctor for advice.

Certainly Arches Tinnitus Formulas are an option. Our Tinnitus Relief Formula has been shown in numerous clinical trials to reduce tinnitus for many people. My own tinnitus has been reduced by about 70% and I have used this product for almost 15 years. When I stop taking it, the tinnitus begins to increase again and when I start, it reduces.

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.