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Tinnitus Library

Ask Barry: July 2008

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:

A Singer's Lament... and Hope

Hello Barry,

I'm a Portuguese singer / songwriter (24 years old) beginning my career. And tinnitus is "playing" with my emotions and I feel I'm in an ironic position because I've worked hard at my music and I am about to finally release my first record. But now I have tinnitus, permanently, constant, chronic. I don't know if I should use earplugs or not in my professional life. When I use them for long periods of time it gets painful. But if I don't use them I am afraid my tinnitus will get worse but without them I can hear better and sing better. Do you know where can I talk to other musicians with tinnitus?

My tinnitus began in October 2007, first in my left ear and three days later it started in my right ear. We have talked a bit about low level laser therapy (LLLT) before. I was treated by Dr. Wilden in Germany two months ago and I didn't experience much amelioration. In Germany Doctor Wilden was very kind, but he didn't make the exam to try to find the exact frequency of my tinnitus, and I found that weird. During the 10 treatments I had a few changes in tinnitus characteristics, like pitch and volume but it didn't last. Before LLLT I had tried antihistamines, cortisone, ginkgo, Chinese acupuncture and homeopathic herbs and several prescription drugs such a Campral. Nothing worked.

I’d like to try other things. It's hard for me to believe in meditation and hypnotherapy, but you never know. At this moment I don't have the money for some of these expensive treatments but I need to have a plan. I'd really wanted to try your products and I hope you can send it to me. I've tried a Ginkgo drug but it was only 120 mg per day during one month, so it was not the same thing.

What do you know about Biomental Therapy? What do you know about Hadassah Center in Jerusalem? What do you know about Phase-out treatment?

I hope you "hear" good news for me. Thanks a lot for all your work and a salute from Portugal!


Hi Carlos,

I apologize for the delay in responding to your question. I am on vacation and not in the office. You can talk to other rockers and musicians at a great website called H.E.A.R. (Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers). They will also advise you to use earplugs. You can purchase musician's earplugs that allow you to hear the full spectrum of sound but dampen the dB level to below what is harmful.

I'm sorry you didn't have a better response to Dr. Wilden's techniques. No tinnitus treatment works for everyone and that may not be the one for you.

Using Arches Tinnitus Relief Formula® or at least a high quality Ginkgo biloba-based product should be helpful. However, you will have to use 480 mg daily for 3-4 months before you can determine how helpful it will be. 120 mg for one month will not help anyone.

Unfortunately we are prohibited from commercially shipping our products to most countries in Europe due to EU customs restrictions. However a friend or relative can personally forward them to you labeled as "personal goods" and they will not be inspected by Portuguese Customs.

I'm not aware of Biomental Therapy. This may be similar to Anxiety Relief Technique (ART) practiced by Dr. Smithdeal in the US. I am aware of Dr. Shemesh at the Hadassah Center in Jerusalem. He claims a high response rate but I cannot say one way or the other if it is effective.

I am highly aware of the Phase-Out treatment and would recommend it. In this program, you pay for the clinic visits to determine if the therapy is helpful. If it is, you can purchase a custom designed CD for home use. If it is not successful, you do not make the purchase. Neuromonics is another new treatment that seems helpful for most people although is quite expensive.

Wishing you quiet times, Barry Keate


Inspirational Movie on Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

Hi Barry,

I watched an excellent movie called Music Within. This true story was about Richard Pimental who came back from Vietnam with tinnitus and a severe hearing disability. He and his disabled friend are credited for getting the American Disabilities Act passed which has significantly improved the quality of life for people with disabilities. At one point in the movie he has a physician insert a device in his ears which improves his hearing. Can you give me any information regarding this device?

Thanks Claudia

Hi Claudia,

It sounds like you are referring to a cochlear implant. These are used primarily in cases of near to total deafness. Cochlear implant has been applied successfully in more than 14,000 patients worldwide. The implant receives sound through a microphone, converts it to an electrical signal, processes the signal to enhance specific characteristics and delivers the signal through one or many electrodes that are surgically placed in the inner ear. This stimulates the hearing nerve, resulting in the perceived reception of sound by the patient.

Wishing you quiet times, Barry Keate


Fear of Ototoxic Drugs

Hi Barry,

I am really worried about what I have been reading about ototoxic drugs. I have had ringing in my ears/head now for about two months. It has always been quite loud and so my doctor put me on Lorazepam, and Ativan to help me sleep. I have heard that the Valium-related drugs are ototoxic. Is this true? Is that the case also for Lorazepam as well?

My doctor has mentioned putting me on a anti-depressant and in light of these current facts I am considering it.

However, I suffer more from anxiety than depression, so is there a danger in taking an anti-depressant if you’re not depressed, and would it do any good? In one of your articles you had mentioned Remeron as an non ototoxic choice, can you suggest any other anti anxiety or anti-depressant or other type of drug that would be help and not ototoxic?

It should be mentioned that I do feel my ringing has gotten louder however I did have minor surgery and it has always seemed louder since then. My ENT said that that the loudness would subside once my ears have healed but they have not. Please help me I don't know what to do. Up until this point it has been the Lorazepam that has helped me to cope and to sleep and to slightly reduce my symptoms but if it could be making me worse then I need to be on something else. I have also been diagnosed with Otosclerosis and do plan to try an aid soon. Please help, I would appreciate any expert advice you can give.


Dear Margaret,

Lorazepam and other Valium-like medications are not generally considered to be ototoxic. When I was at my worst, these were the medications that helped me. Since Lorazepam has also helped you, I would continue using it without worry.

Anti-depressants, on the other hand, often cause or worsen tinnitus. They also create changes in brain chemistry that make it so you cannot quit using them. I have known many people who are totally unable to quit anti-depressants even though they no longer require them. I would not use them unless absolutely necessary. If they do become necessary, use Remeron.

The underlying cause of your condition may well be the otosclerosis. This is a treatable condition. If it is not too far advanced, medications can help greatly and they are not ototoxic. If it is advanced, there is a surgical therapy that is quite effective. Please read our article about otosclerosis in our Tinnitus Library.

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.