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Tinnitus Library

Ask Barry - June 2011

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:

Sitting up in bed makes the Tinnitus go away... what up with that?

Dear Barry, Why is my tinnitus not stabilizing? I have had it for 5 months and I never know what to expect. I take the supplements which have reduced the volume, eat right, exercise, have taken e-stim, etc. but I go from one day perfectly quiet to a slight humming the next day, to more intense the next, to a combination day the next, to hissing the next... and I never know what to expect. Also If I sit up straight when the "hissing" begins (usually in the middle of the night) it usually decreases in volume and sometimes goes away completely and I just cannot explain why this happens.

This is keeping me from being able to take any one course to stay sane! Thanks, Paul

Hello Paul, You have a classic case of somatic tinnitus. This is where electrical signals from sensors in the body interfere with signals from the auditory cortex and make tinnitus worse. The body signals can be from Temporomandibular Joint dysfunction (TMJ), a spasm of the Sternocleidomastoid muscle in the neck, or various sensory signals from the head, face, neck and trunk.

Once the somatic signals from the body can be isolated, they can usually be treated and the tinnitus will reduce.

When you say you have taken an “e-stim,” I assume you mean a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator (TENS). This can be helpful if the spasm is coming from the Sternocleidomastoid muscle but may be less effective if the signals are coming from other sources.

Physical therapy, muscle relaxation exercises and biofeedback have all shown good outcomes in reducing somatic tinnitus and lowering the sound level.

Wishing you quiet times, Barry Keate

Hearing Aid Harassment?

Dear Barry, On Monday, 5/11/11, I began wearing a hearing aid for a loss with low-frequency sounds in one ear. I was advised it would program itself and it could be adjusted at the end of the two-week period. I was also advised that there were protections in it to prevent loud noises from damaging my hearing after an incident in the theatre when a loud noise caused the aid to turn itself off and back on. On the 25th I told the audiologist that high pitched noises; alarm signal upon entering the house, a whistling sound from the kitchen faucet, as well as surprising interference from the clothes dryer, which created a long ringing upon starting, (along with the automatic switching off and then back on from the aid) were startling, loud and uncomfortable. We discussed adjustments that could be made to alleviate these discomforts and I made an appointment for Wednesday, 5/27/11.

I couldn't make my appointment on the 27th. Coincidentally, on that day, the tinnitus began. The audiologist advised me to stop wearing the aid on that day and I complied. It is now two weeks and the tinnitus has not subsided. I suspect that my tinnitus is permanent from amplified sounds over a two week period.

My question to you is did you ever hear of such an event before? The doctor and audiologist told me this never happened to anyone before. The tinnitus is far worse than the hearing deficiency I tried to remedy. I feel angry at putting up with these sounds because I thought they were part of the automatic programming process and for not recognizing possible danger. I am upset with the audiologist for not warning me that this could happen.

Thank you for your time. I appreciate your website. Karen B.

Dear Karen, I’m sorry this happened to you. I am not expert in hearing aids and don’t have much experience with them. I do know a few things that I’ll be happy to pass along.

Brief intense sounds do not generally cause or worsen tinnitus. Brief explosive sounds can but an alarm signal on entering a house, unless listened to for hours, will not damage hearing. Neither will a whistling sound from a kitchen faucet. I don’t know how loud the ringing was from the interference of the clothes dryer.

There may be an element of elevated stress involved. Stress is the number one aggravator of tinnitus and will make a level 3 seem like a level 8 in no time. I would try to do anything possible to reduce the stress level. Hypnotherapy and acupuncture are two very good ways to do this. If all else fails, get a prescription for klonopin from your doctor. This should help you relax and will also reduce the tinnitus sound level.

Arches Tinnitus Formulas are a very good way to reduce tinnitus over the long-term. I hope your tinnitus improves.

Wishing you quiet times, Barry Keate

Tried it all, but the masker worked for her tinnitus

Hi Barry: I really felt sorry for the woman who was given Lorazepam to calm her and how acute her tinnitus is. She goes to great lengths to subdue it. I am also curious about low laser therapy. Does one have to travel to Germany to receive it? I’ve been to three otolaryngologists and two audiologists. None of them could help me. It’s due to “wear and tear” or “it goes along with hearing loss.” An audiologist said to try hearing aids but they didn’t work. The specialist at my audiology clinic said to try Neuromonics and I might so I can say I’ve tried everything only the cost is around $5,000. I did check with an audiologist who deals with tinnitus patients and he recommended tinnitus maskers ($2,000). He told me that about 85% of his patients get help from them. I invested in a pair as I was willing to try anything. They help! They fit snugly into the ear and are very comfortable.

Regards, Mary H.

Dear Mary, Thank you for your comments; we'll try to share them with others. I don't see that you've tried Arches Tinnitus Formulas. This is usually considered the first step because they are inexpensive compared to other therapies and work well for about 50% of people. If they are not effective, we generally refer folks to tinnitus masking instruments and/or Neuromonics.

Unfortunately, the only successful LLLT treatments I am aware of occur in Germany under Dr. Lutz Wilden.

Anyway, I'm very happy you have received some relief.

Wishing you quiet times, Barry Keate