Figuring out how to live with tinnitus is often how you manage it. You leave the television on to help you tune out the constant ringing. You avoid going dancing because the loud music at the bar makes your tinnitus worse for days after. You’re constantly trying new therapies and strategies with your specialist. Eventually, your tinnitus just becomes something you work into your daily life.
Tinnitus doesn’t have a cure so you feel powerless. But that may be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology seems to offer promise that we could be getting closer to a permanent and reliable cure for tinnitus.
Tinnitus commonly is experienced as a ringing or buzzing in the ear (although, tinnitus might be experienced as other noises also) that do not have an objective cause. A condition that impacts over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is remarkably common.
And it’s not a cause itself but a symptom of something else. In other words, tinnitus is caused by something else – tinnitus symptoms are the result of some underlying problem. One reason why a “cure” for tinnitus is challenging is that these root causes can be hard to narrow down. There are various possible causes for tinnitus symptoms.
It is true, the majority of people connect tinnitus to hearing loss of some type, but even that relationship is not clear. There is some relationship but there are some people who have tinnitus and don’t have any loss of hearing.
A New Culprit: Inflammation
Dr. Shaowen Bao, who is associate professor of physiology at Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon has recently published research. Mice that had tinnitus triggered by noise induced loss of hearing were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And a new culprit for tinnitus was discovered by her and her team: inflammation.
Based on the scans and tests done on these mice, inflammation was found across the parts of the brain responsible for hearing. As inflammation is the body’s response to injury, this finding does suggest that noise-induced loss of hearing could be causing some harm we don’t thoroughly understand yet.
But this finding of inflammation also leads to the possibility of a new type of treatment. Because dealing with inflammation is something we understand how to do (generally). When the mice were given medication that inhibited the observed inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus vanished. Or, at least, those symptoms were no longer observable.
Does This Mean There’s a Pill to Treat Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough view, you can probably look at this research and see how, one day, there may definitely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that–instead of investing in these various coping elements, you can just take a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
That’s certainly the goal, but there are different huge obstacles in the way:
- These experiments were performed first on mice. And there’s a long way to go before this particular method is safe and authorized for use on people.
- There are several causes for tinnitus; Which specific forms of tinnitus are associated with inflammation is still not certain.
- We still have to establish whether any new strategy is safe; these inflammation blocking medications may have harmful side effects that still need to be identified.
So it could be pretty far off before we get a pill for tinnitus. But it’s no longer impossible. If you suffer from tinnitus now, that represents a substantial boost in hope. And, obviously, this approach in treating tinnitus is not the only one currently being studied. Every new finding, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus a little bit closer.
What Can You do Today?
You could have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that isn’t going to offer you any comfort for your prolonged buzzing or ringing right now. Modern treatments may not “cure” your tinnitus but they do offer real results.
Some techniques include noise-cancellation units or cognitive therapies designed to help you dismiss the sounds linked to your tinnitus. You don’t have to wait for a cure to get relief, you can get help dealing with your tinnitus right now. Discovering a treatment that works can help you spend more time doing what you love, and less time thinking about that buzzing or ringing in your ears. Contact us for a consultation today.