TINNITUS -- New Hope for a Cure

(Synopsis of a book with new scientific information,
for both sufferers and doctors) by Paul VanValkenburgh


When I became a tinnitus sufferer myself, I was frustrated by the lack of knowledge about it among doctors. As a scientific researcher, I soon discovered there was a lack of agreement or progress in the entire woldwide tinnitus community.

My own subsequent research produced enough exciting new information to fill a book, which I wrote in a unique multi-level style, with almost every paragraph starting with a summarizing sentence in simple layman language in bold type. Each paragraph then progresses into more scientific terminology for professionals. You could probably get the basic concepts by rapidly scanning just the first boldface phrases of every paragraph, and the 31 figures which illustrate the explanations.

Additional material was created after the Fifth Quadriennial International Tinnitus Convention, July 12, 1995, where the book was presented to most of the world's foremost authorities on the subject. Many of them were quite interested and receptive; some were less so. This was not surprising, since they often don't even agree among themselves about explanations, causes, treatments -- much less even the proper pronunciation. However, none of them had any evidence to disprove anything in this book.

The first half of the book lays the groundwork, with new information from other sources, which most audiologists and otolaryngologists are probably not aware of. These are necessary and sufficient clues, which you might be able to use to solve the mystery yourself.

The second half starts with an apparently obvious and simple explanation for tinnitus, and responds to potential arguments. It then follows through with "if-then" medical solutions to cover every possibility, to give us hope until these treatments are proven.

[To the layman: This book leaps to the assumption that your tinnitus has been diagnosed by an audiologist or otolaryngologist, who could rule out the very slight possibility of more serious causes than simple hearing degradation, and perhaps have identified your tinnitus frequency and amplitude. You might also bring this book to their attention, if they are not already aware of it. Such professionals might help you understand the more technical concepts, and assure you that every statement is scientifically plausible.]



The critical importance of hope -- and where to get it. The relationship of emotions to medical problems. My qualifications, and my specific case. The assumed conventional wisdom of tinnitus has been leading nowhere for the last two decades. Existing therapies produce random successes.

Chapter 1: CHANGE, GROW, OR DIE -- The Dynamics of Perception.

All of our senses and perceptions (touch, smell, vision, even hearing) require constant change or refreshing to stay in our conciousness. If you don't believe it, try some demonstrations on yourself to provide the evidence. So why does tinnitus appear to be constant? The process is similar radio tuning, computer image enhancement, and the maintenance of vision.

Chapter 2: YOUR INNER FILTERS -- You already have the best stereo equalizer imaginable.

Your ability to focus on sounds of interest, despite louder background noise, has been explained by acoustical engineering research. It is similar to electronic filtering in audio systems -- only far more precise. These inner filters also provide the ability to filter out undesirable sounds -- until they are damaged with hearing loss. These filters can be related to specific structures in the inner ear.

Chapter 3: THE ZWICKER EFFECT -- Sounds you don't notice can hurt.

Laboratory experiments have demonstrated that specific very low-level tailored sounds can create temporary ringing in normal ears. This is probably related to the brief ringing that almost everyone hears after exposure to very loud noise, or at otherwise apparently random times in quiet surroundings.

Chapter 4: SPECTRUM EDGES -- Sub-conscious causes of ringing are everywhere.

A scientific analysis of ordinary everyday sounds has demonstrated some that are surprisingly similar to the experimental sounds which create temporary tinnitus. Prior personal experience had already shown the connection between such exposure and temporary ringing. These sounds are illustrated in spectral diagrams.

Chapter 5: FILTER OVERLOAD -- Your hearing is overworked, even when you sleep.

PET scans indicate that by far the greatest brain activity is in areas related to hearing -- especially when asleep, or not consciously listening. This supports the idea that that filtering or noise cancellation is the normal full-time activity.

Chapter 6: BIOLOGICAL EAR DEFENSES -- Protection is provided by the middle ear muscles.

The inner ear is so exquisitely sensitive that the middle ear has evolved protection mechanisms. Support for the middle ear bones apparently includes three muscles which can be tensed under extreme conditions, to stiffen or fine-tune them. This also explains why we are not overwhelmed by the inner noises of our own body -- such as eating or speaking.

Chapter 7: THE EAR BONE'S CONNECTED TO THE JAW BONE -- Why dinosaurs couldn't hear and chew at the same time.

Obscure anatomy studies of the jaw and middle ears of both humans and dinosaurs demonstrates a peculiar microscopic connection -- and an explanation, including why ringing can be related to eating.

Chapter 8: THERE'S A HOLE IN YOUR HEARING -- The middle ear has a gap, and a resonance, in sound transmission.

Your middle ear has a mechanism which amplifies sounds -- but not perfectly. Just like an electronic amplifier, it can resonate or "feedback" at at certain frequencies -- which seem to be related to tinnitus frequencies. We are not conscious of this defect because the middle ear protection system conceals it in the normal ear.

Chapter 9: YOUR EARS ACTUALLY LISTEN TO EACH OTHER -- Your parallel-lane information superhighway.

There are many known nerve interconnections between your two ears, which can explain the ability to tell which direction a sound is coming from. But it can also explain why a defect in one -- such as tinnitus -- could appear to be in both, or after treatment, to be in the other ear.

Chapter 10: BEYOND GRAY'S ANATOMY -- Into the blood supply of the cochlea.

The capillaries in the inner ear have some unique and peculiar characteristics, which have not been widely noted nor explained. They develop in an odd pattern, have an unusually high flow rate, and degenerate with some relationship to hearing loss. There are also occasional rogue capillaries (shown in photos) which may have some connection with tinnitus.



The above ten revelations lead to one inescapable conclusion, which seems simple on the surface -- but only after all ten are fully understood. To present this hypothesis without such background would trivialize it.

Chapter 11b: ARGUMENTS

Other researchers have so much invested in their own explanations of tinnitus -- each of which has fatal flaws -- that potential arguments against this one were anticipated and countered. The book's premise can actually be used to explain the discrepancies in others. Throughout the book, tests are suggested to prove or disprove it.


Tinnitus, and the ten associated revelations in part one, give new insight how each of our approximately 15,000 inner ear hair cells acts to discriminate specific frequencies and amplitudes. They also provide better understanding of temporary or permanent hearing loss or ringing, caused by the abuse of our filters.

Chapter 11d: MAKING SENSE -- The explanatory power of a good theory.

The ten revelations and hypothesis also explain most, if not all, of the peculiar symptoms of tinnitus: association with hearing loss, differences in frequency, differences in apparent location, the random success of different therapies, the apparent low amplitude, the various effects of medications, loss of conversation discrimination, instances of heightened sensitivity, and the relationship to temporary ringing.

Chapter 12: THE FUTURE -- New hope for a cure.

Hearing is such a complex process that there are many locations where a failure can cause hearing loss and/or tinnitus. All of these possibilities are described, along with a corresponding possible treatment, including:

Chapter 13: THE END -- Or the beginning of the end.

Anticipation of critics. Implications for the prevention of tinnitus. A call to action. MORE new hope.


Most scientific updates are inserted in each book; more will be posted here. Since the book was printed, I've discovered an excellent online TINNITUS FORUM AND FAQ.(a 160k file) by Lee Leggore, which includes many links to other online sources which I won't duplicate here. I've also added a page with my latest thoughts on HYPERACUSIS.

SKEPTICAL? Sure, I expected that.

I'm sure you are also frustrated and disappointed about all the other resources -- books, doctors, experts -- that have let you down. It's ironical, a "catch-22." My observation is that those who are most disturbed by tinnitus are often the most succeptible to disappointment and lost faith in experts and easily discouraged. It makes my job all that more challenging.

FAQ1 -- Why you? I never heard of you before.
Generally speaking, I keep a low profile by choice, although I'm internationally known by insiders in my own special areas of interest. I'm a maverick "problem-solver," driven to intellectual challenges by altruism and empathy for desperate people. I'm a science and technology researcher with a Master's degree in human behavior, and I have tinnitus. There's more detail in the book.

FAQ2 -- Why haven't others been able to find a cure?
My best guess is that they didn't use computerized searches or the right keywords and go outside their own fields as I did. Also, other researchers have their own vested interests, and they might find themselves embarassed -- if not out of a job -- if it turns out they are searching in the wrong place.

FAQ3 -- Why haven't they endorsed you yet?
The fact is, I've submitted my book to them, and I'm waiting for their responses. But any advancement in medicine takes a long time to be proven and accepted. Another irony:

Maybe it won't be appreciated in my lifetime. In the meantime, I know you need hope and comfort right now!

FAQ4 -- How do I know you aren't just exploiting my despair?
Compared to the hundreds -- or thousands -- of dollars you probably spent finding out what your tinnitus ISN'T, how much of a gamble is $15 to see if I might be right? You can't even lose that, because if my book doesn't live up to my promise I'll refund your money -- if you return the book marked up with specific medical references to disprove me.

FAQ5 -- Why should I believe you?
No one has yet shown me any medical evidence to disprove any part of my hypotheses. I welcome your attempt.
I've gone back over it dozens of times because it's hard to believe myself:

FAQ6 -- So what's the cure?
If I could explain it in one page, I wouldn't have wasted my time writing the book. I've tried, and not even otolaryngologist's have "got it" in one page. Many possible new solutions are offered. See the list in the Chapter 12 synopsis above. However, in my case, at least, knowing the source, and the likely cures, has made me accept the symptoms instead. It's like preferring hay fever over weekly injections.

FAQ7 -- How soon might we have these cures?
Since I'm not at a research lab, that depends on all the PhD's out there -- how soon we get their attention and they perform the necessary experiments suggested in the book. I've done all I can. With enough outside pressure and internal cooperation, I'd hope we could have human trials in less than a year.

About Paul VanValkenburgh:

Interdisciplinary degree in engineering. Master's degree in human behavior. Master's thesis on "A Systematic Analysis of the Behavioral and Social Sciences." Since 1969, published nearly a million words in over 250 technical and science articles in dozens of enthusiast and science periodicals plus publications such as SAE and Encyclopaedia Britannica, plus five technical books.

Experienced as a draftsman, fabricator, designer, modeler, engineer, aerodynamicist, test driver, race driver, programmer, author, columnist, photographer, illustrator, editor, publisher, and lecturer ....

using computerized instrumentation to research the ergonomics and vehicle dynamics of cars, trucks, trailers, motorcycles, snowmobiles, motorhomes, 3-wheelers, bicycles, human-powered vehicles, and race cars ....

for McDonnell-Douglas, General Motors, Systems Technology (a vehicle dynamics think-tank), and Petersen Publishing ....

and consulting to various magazines, vehicle importers, aftermarket suppliers, small vehicle manufacturers, racing teams, tire companies, the CHP, U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. bike and bobsled teams.

Currently semi-retired to do independent literature research and brainstorming in neurological disorders such as tinnitus, and possible common denominators with others such as dyslexia, autism, color blindness, obsessive-compulsive disorder, migraine, etc.


It wouldn't be any favor to you if the whole book was online.
Its 120 pages and 31 illustrations (5 1/2 by 8 1/2 paperback)
would be a half-megabyte file to download, print and bind.
It's not stocked in bookstores so I can get you on a mail list for updates.


To assist researchers doing keyword searches, I am providing the entire index from the book online at http://www.pvanvalkenburgh.com/neurosense/bookindex.html

TO ORDER: Send $15.00 (ppd. in USA) to:

TINNITUS-N, Box 3611, Seal Beach, CA 90740

If after reading the entire book, you agree with it, tell another tinnitus sufferer, and tell the American Tinnitus Association to do something about it. If you disagree with any point whatsoever -- let ME know. Or let me know if some parts were less understandable, or you had problems accessing on the web. I use Web-Counter to record hits,but if you want to get on a future mailing list, leave your e-mail address at: