When you suffer from tinnitus, you learn to live with it. You leave the television on to help you tune out the constant ringing. And loud music at bars is making your tinnitus worse so you stay away from going dancing. You check in with experts regularly to try out new therapies and new techniques. Eventually, your tinnitus just becomes something you fold into your everyday life.
For the most part, that’s because there isn’t any cure for tinnitus. Changes may be coming, however. New research published in PLOS Biology seems to give promise that we could be getting closer to a permanent and effective cure for tinnitus.
Tinnitus normally is experienced as a ringing or buzzing in the ear (though, tinnitus might be present as other sounds also) that do not have a concrete cause. A problem that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is very common.
And it’s not a cause itself but a symptom of some other problem. Put simply, tinnitus is triggered by something else – there’s a root problem that brings about tinnitus symptoms. These underlying causes can be hard to diagnose and that’s one reason why a cure is evasive. Tinnitus symptoms can appear due to numerous reasons.
Even the interaction between tinnitus and loss of hearing is unclear though the majority of people link the two. There’s a relationship, sure, but not all people who have tinnitus also have hearing loss (and vice versa).
A New Culprit: Inflammation
Dr. Shaowen Bao, who is associate professor of physiology at Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon has recently published research. Dr. Bao performed experiments on mice who had tinnitus caused by noise-induced hearing loss. And what she and her team found out suggests a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Inflammation was seen in the brain areas used for hearing when scans were done to these mice. As inflammation is the body’s response to damage, this finding does suggest that noise-induced hearing loss may be creating some damage we don’t thoroughly understand yet.
But a new form of approach is also opened up by these results. Because dealing with inflammation is something we know how to do (in general). When the mice were given medication that impeded the detected inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus disappeared. Or at the very least there were no longer observable symptoms of tinnitus.
Does This Mean There’s a Pill for Tinnitus?
One day there will likely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that–rather than investing in these various coping elements, you can just take a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus under control.
There are some hurdles but that is certainly the goal:
- We still have to establish whether any new approach is safe; these inflammation blocking medications could have dangerous side effects that still need to be identified.
- Not everyone’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; it’s difficult to know (at this point) whether all or even most tinnitus is connected to inflammation of some kind.
- These experiments were performed first on mice. And it will be a while before this particular strategy is safe and authorized for use on humans.
So, a pill to treat tinnitus may be a long way off. But it isn’t impossible. If you suffer from tinnitus today, that represents a significant boost in hope. And, obviously, this approach in dealing with tinnitus is not the only one currently being studied. Every new discovery, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a bit nearer.
What Can You do Today?
You might have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that isn’t going to offer you any relief for your persistent buzzing or ringing now. Modern treatments might not “cure” your tinnitus but they do produce real results.
Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus noises, oftentimes employing noise canceling headphones or cognitive therapies is what modern strategies are trying to do. You don’t need to wait for a cure to find relief, you can get help dealing with your tinnitus right now. Spending less time stressing about the buzzing or ringing in your ears and more time doing what you love is the reason why you need to let us help you find a therapy that works for you. Contact us for a consultation now.