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Tinnitus Library

Ask Barry Questions on Tinnitus - June 2014

Do you have questions about tinnitus, our products or specific treatments? Ask Barry. Arches President and tinnitus authority, Barry Keate, will select the most representative questions each month for 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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Sinus issues and Tinnitus

Dear Barry,

Is there any way to tell between tinnitus and sinus issues causing the noise in my ears?

Thank You, Christine A.

Dear Christine,

If you are having any sinus issues that would be an indicator it may be the cause of your tinnitus. If you're not certain you can have a checkup by an Ear, Nose and Throat physician who will examine your ears for infection and probably order an audiogram to check your hearing.

There are two types of hearing loss that can cause tinnitus; sensorineural and conductive. Sensorinearal hearing loss occurs when the hair cells in the inner ear are damaged. Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound is not fully transmitted to the inner ear. Conductive hearing loss will occur with sinus issues.

An audiogram will be able to distinguish between the two. It measures both air conduction and bone conduction hearing in the inner ear. If they both indicate hearing loss the cause is sensorineural. If there is good hearing by bone conduction but not by air conduction the hearing loss is conductive.

Another test for sinus problems is a tympanogram which measures mobility of the ear drum. This will tell whether there is fluid buildup in the middle ear indicating potential sinus problems. You can read further about these conditions in our article on hearing loss.

Wishing you quiet times, Barry Keate

Diet sodas and Tinnitus

Dear Barry,

Is it true that aspartame can contribute to tinnitus?  Also, what about large amounts of carbonated drinks?

Thank you, Steve A.

Dear Steve,

Aspartame is a neurotoxin and leads to tinnitus as well as other neurodegenerative disease such as MS and Parkinson's Disease. We have done extensive research into the way aspartame, and its cousin MSG, destroys brain cells. Essentially aspartame is an excitatory neurotransmitter. By excitatory I mean the presence of aspartame excites neurons in the brain and allows them to fire electronic signals until they become depleted and die.

Large amounts of carbonated drinks are also problematic. If they are diet drinks they contain aspartame. If they are not diet they contain sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup. There is also a significant relationship between excess sugar consumption and tinnitus. Researches have discovered a link between insulin resistance and tinnitus.

Wishing you quiet times, Barry Keate

A serious crash… and then tinnitus

Hi Barry, I always look forward to your column and answers and have learned so much from them.  I've been taking Arches Tinnitus Formula for almost 5 years now.  I suffer from severe tinnitus hearing many (at least 6) different sounds, including fluctuating similar to a fire truck siren, all at the same time 24 hours per day.  This was caused by a high speed (over 40 mph) rear end collision where I was hit from behind while at a complete stop.  I suffered a horrible whiplash injury which caused among other things, my back molar teeth to be broken, and TMJ displacement, none of which has truly healed.

Tinnitus has been the most difficult to accept of all the injuries.  It has taken years, but I have finally accepted my "new normal" and am wondering if you know of any brand of hearing aids that are made specifically for people like me with tinnitus?  My hearing isn't too bad, it's just extremely difficult to hear voices and make out conversations accurately over all this noise.

I'd also like to add that Arches Tinnitus Formula only reduces the tinnitus by about 30% for me.  I did stop taking it for a short time a couple years ago thinking that it wasn't working, but soon realized and remembered just how bad it really had been, as the noise level increased dramatically without it.  I think we get used to something over time and forget our original condition.  I won't stop taking it again. I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely, Julie W.

Dear Julie,

I'm happy our product has been helping you but wish we could do more to lower the sounds. There are hearing aids made specifically for tinnitus and they may help a lot. A new one from Widex is called Zen therapy and it is specifically for tinnitus. It uses what they call fractal technology to help mask tinnitus sounds. It sounds like chimes at different frequencies and timing.

There are quite a few others. We published an article on hearing aids, tinnitus maskers and tinnitus instruments.

The hearing aid is exactly what you think. The newer ones are digital and can be tuned to any frequency. A tinnitus masker is like a hearing aid but instead of amplification it provides a masking sound which reduces the tinnitus. The most effective and most popular device is termed a tinnitus instrument. This combines a hearing aid and a masker. The hearing aid can be turned off at night, when you don't want amplification, while the masker is left on. About 71% of people who try out a tinnitus instrument are pleased with it and make the purchase.

There are many choices for you and I suggest you take the time to find the right device. I don't know the brand names of the tinnitus instruments, other than the Widex, but if you call around I'm sure you can find a hearing center that can guide you to the right choice.

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. We encourage you to share any suggestions you have received from Ask Barry with your doctor.