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Tinnitus Library

Ask Barry: November 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:

Can tomatoes increase tinnitus?

Dear Barry,

The bi-lateral ringing started out of the blue in late Aug '08. The first ENT doctor I went to looked in my ears and said that this was a reaction or sensitivity to MSG & foods with natural salicylates in them (ie: berries, tomatoes, potatoes, apples, peaches, cucumbers, etc). I thought this was crazy as I have been a very health conscience eater most of my life with no tinnitus side effects after eating lots of fruits, tomatoes, etc. The second ENT doctor I went to said that he had never heard of these foods causing tinnitus or exasperating it. I do understand that MSG can increase the effects of tinnitus, but I am very careful about not eating foods that contain this ingredient.

My question is if there is any connection between tinnitus and these foods that have high amounts of salicylates in them?

Thanks for your time, Rhonda K

Dear Rhonda,

I’m with you; I think the first ENT you saw was perched a little far out on the ledge. I have never heard of salicylates, aka aspirin, found in foods to be a cause of tinnitus.

It is generally agreed that aspirin, in high doses, can cause or aggravate tinnitus. By high doses, I’m talking in the several hundred to several thousand milligram range, over a long period of time. My pharmacist, for instance, had rheumatic fever when he was a kid. In those days the only treatment was bed rest and high doses of aspirin every day for several months. He has had tinnitus ever since. In my own case, I can take two regular aspirin, at 325 mg, safely. If I take a third one, my tinnitus will increase for the rest of the day. So it takes 975 mg of aspirin to increase my tinnitus. We are all different and some people may be more sensitive to aspirin than I, but we’re still talking about a fairly high dosage.

The amount of salicylates found in the fruits you mention is much, much lower than this Here's a link to a chart on salicylate content in food. You will see that most of these contain 3 mg or less salicylates for every 100 grams of food, about 3.5 ounces. It would take an awfully lot of berries to cause tinnitus in a normal adult.

MSG is another story altogether. This is a flavor enhancing agent and is used in many packaged and prepared foods. It is neurotoxic, meaning toxic to the nerves, and can cause tinnitus and other neurodegenerative conditions. It is very difficult to avoid in packaged foods because the FDA has ruled if it is combined with other additives, it does not have to be named. We published a long article on Food-borne Neurotoxins and Tinnitus. Part 2 of the article is on MSG.

Wishing you quiet times, Barry Keate

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Portable Laser Tool for Tinnitus?


Dear Barry

I write to you again because you are the only person who inspires me with confidence on this subject of tinnitus. I want to ask you about Tinni-Tool, It has been a year with tinnitus, every day gets worse, and I do not know why. According to what I read on the internet it could lower or even cure the tinnitus in people who have had it less than 4 years. Is there any danger for use the LLT, could it make worse my tinnitus? Please, I would like to know your opinion and know that does not replace an ENT, but believe I feel more comfortable with yours.

Thank you very much, Walter Perez, Miami, Fl

Dear Walter,

I am not a fan of most portable tinnitus devices. There is some reason for hope using Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) but the best results are found in patients who visit Dr. Wilden in Germany. I have not heard any positive reports for similar LLLT clinics in the US. A complete review of LLLT can be found in our Tinnitus Library.

Dr. Wilden uses three separate lasers for each patient. His are fairly high powered and one-hour sessions are repeated every day for 10-14 days. Clinics in the US do not use as many lasers, at the same power, or for the same duration. I believe this accounts for the lack of success in US clinics.

The Tinni-Tool uses a very small, extremely low power, single laser that can be used in the home. I have no faith that this portable instrument will have any effect on long-standing tinnitus. We published an article on several portable tinnitus devices and the Tinni-Tool is the third of four devices reviewed.

Wishing you quiet times, Barry Keate

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Surgical solution for tinnitus?

Dear Barry Keate

I just have a few simple questions: 1 - Is there a surgery on the inner ear that will delete tinnitus? 2 - Are there artificial parts for the inner ear that can be replaced to delete tinnitus? 3 - Can the entire inner ear be replaced with a donor?

Thank you very much, Wayne Giggey

Dear Wayne,

There is an inner ear surgery called a cochlear implant. In this surgery the entire cochlea is removed and and electronic device is substituted. It is very invasive and completely destroys existing hearing. For this reason, it is only performed on profoundly deaf people. An article on cochlear implants can be seen in our Tinnitus Library.

The only other condition for which surgery is successful is in the case of otosclerosis. In this condition, the bones in the middle ear harden and don't transmit sound into the inner ear. A surgery called stapedectomy replaces these bones with a prosthetic device.

These two conditions, profound deafness and otosclerosis, are the only two for which surgical procedures are helpful.

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.