When you suffer from tinnitus, you learn to cope with it. To help tune it out you keep the television on. You skip going dancing because the loud music at the bar makes your tinnitus worse for days. You check in with experts constantly to try out new solutions and new strategies. Eventually, your tinnitus simply becomes something you work into your everyday way of life.
Mostly, that’s because there’s no cure for tinnitus. But that may be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology seems to offer promise that we may be getting closer to a permanent and effective cure for tinnitus.
Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus normally is experienced as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (although, tinnitus could be present as other sounds too) that don’t have a concrete cause. A problem that impacts over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is exceptionally common.
It’s also a symptom, broadly speaking, and not a cause in and of itself. In other words, something causes tinnitus – tinnitus symptoms are the outcome of some root concern. These underlying causes can be difficult to diagnose and that’s one reason why a cure is elusive. There are many possible causes for tinnitus symptoms.
Even the relationship between tinnitus and hearing loss is uncertain though the majority of people connect the two. There is some link but some people 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 released a study. Mice that had tinnitus triggered by noise induced hearing loss were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And what she and her team discovered suggests a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Inflammation was found in the brain centers responsible for hearing when scans were performed on these mice. These Scans indicate that noise-induced hearing loss is producing some unknown damage because inflammation is the body’s response to damage.
But this finding of inflammation also brings about the opportunity for a new form of therapy. Because we know (generally speaking) how to deal with inflammation. The tinnitus symptoms went away when the mice were treated for inflammation. Or at the very least there were no longer observable symptoms of tinnitus.
Does This Mean There’s a Pill for Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough viewpoint, you can definitely look at this research and see how, one day, there may definitely 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 a couple of hurdles but that is certainly the goal:
- We still have to establish whether any new approach is safe; these inflammation blocking medications could have harmful side effects that could take some time to identify.
- These experiments were first performed on mice. And it will be a while before this particular method is safe and authorized for use on people.
- Not everybody’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; it’s really difficult to understand (for now) whether all or even most tinnitus is connected to inflammation of some kind.
So it could be a long way off before we have a pill for tinnitus. But it’s no longer impossible. If you have tinnitus today, that represents a significant boost in hope. And other techniques are also being researched. That cure gets closer with every bit of knowledge and every new finding.
What Can You do Today?
You might have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that isn’t going to give you any comfort for your persistent buzzing or ringing right now. Current treatments might not “cure” your tinnitus but they do offer real results.
Some methods include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies manufactured to help you brush off the sounds linked to your tinnitus. A cure may be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you should cope with tinnitus alone or unaided. Discovering a therapy 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.