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Tinnitus Library

Ask Barry - March 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:

Definitive exam for tinnitus? Barry, Is there an examination that can determine the specific cause of a person's tinnitus so that it can be permanently handled?

Thanks, Debilyn G.

Dear Debilyn, There are no tests to determine every possible cause of tinnitus. There are tests to rule in or out some causes. Doctors can generally tell if it is caused by Meniere’s disease, otosclerosis, acoustic neuroma or circulatory problems. These causes all have medical treatments available.

Most tinnitus is caused by hearing loss. An ENT will generally refer the patient to an Audiologist for a hearing test. If there is hearing loss, this is presumed to be the cause of the tinnitus. The cause of the hearing loss is another question altogether and one much more difficult to answer. They cannot test to determine if hearing loss is due to noise exposure, ototoxic medications, poor blood circulation or many other causes.

Tinnitus caused by hearing loss is perhaps the most perplexing for ENTs. There is no standard medical treatment for this like there is for the kinds they can test for. Up until very recently, most ENTs have been telling their patients to “learn to live with it” and there is nothing that can be done. There is a lot of research going into tinnitus and many ENTs now refer their patients to Arches Tinnitus Formulas. While we do not have a cure for tinnitus, most people are able to reduce the sound level and manage their symptoms.

Wishing you quiet times, Barry Keate


Ear perfusion for Tinnitus Hello Barry, How do you feel about "ear perfusion" as a treatment for tinnitus? Can damage to the outer ear canal cause tinnitus? Or is it all inner ear and the way the brain interprets the sound?

Thank you, Sherri Seeger

Dear Sherri, I assume when you say ear perfusion you are talking about placing medication in the outer ear canal and letting it perfuse through the ear drum into the middle ear. If this is the case, I don’t think highly of it. The great majority of tinnitus cases have their origins in the cochlea and hearing pathway; the auditory nerve and auditory cortex. The cochlea is quite a ways removed from the ear drum and I don’t believe medications perfused through the ear drum can reach it.

A couple of years ago I tried an experiment with perfused Ginkgo biloba, thinking if I could get it directly to the cochlea, it would be more helpful than taking it systemically. I used the same technique that Dr. Ehrenberger at Vienna University used for perfusing Caroverine. I soaked gauze in a strong Ginkgo biloba solution, inserted it into the ear canal and lay on the opposite ear for one hour. I performed this ritual twice daily for two weeks. Dr. Seidman cautioned me that he did not think this would get the Ginkgo to the cochlea and he was right. Absolutely nothing happened and I gave up on it.

Now, if you’re talking about inner ear perfusion, or what is sometimes called transtympanic perfusion, that is another matter entirely. In transtympanic perfusion, a small catheter is inserted through the ear drum and attached to the round window of the cochlea. Medication is administered by filling the catheter and allowing it to sit on the round window where it eventually perfuses through it and into the cochlea.

This technique shows great promise for many people with tinnitus and has been studied and practiced for quite a few years. It is a surgical procedure and there is some discomfort involved so typically it is only used on those with severe, disabling tinnitus. However, as the technique is developed and refined, it will most likely come into wider use and acceptance. Dr. Seidman gave a presentation on transtympanic perfusion to the International Tinnitus Forum in 2000. His comments can be viewed here.

Wishing you quiet times, Barry Keate


White flour and tinnitus

Hi Barry, Thanks for the newsletter regarding the connection between diet & tinnitus (Feb. 06 Quiet Times). I've been on a diet very similar to the Mediterranean Diet for almost 10 years, (the Master's Diet). I have noticed that when I get off it occasionally, my tinnitus does increase a little, especially at Christmas and Thanksgiving. I would suggest one other food to add to the restrictive list - white flour products. Whole wheat baked goods are so much more healthy.

Derwyn Docken

Dear Derwyn,

I agree. I wrote an article "How Sugar Metabolism Affects Tinnitus." I encourage you to read it. It discusses that correlation between foods that can spike blood sugar and their affect on tinnitus. Because of white flour's ability to quickly convert into simple sugars, it is a known offender. Whole wheat flour has a lower glycemic index which means it takes longer to convert to simple sugars and does not create a sugar spike. It is a much better choice for individuals with tinnitus.

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.