Learning to live with tinnitus is often how you manage it. You keep the television on to help you tune out the constant ringing. You avoid going dancing because the loud music at the bar causes your tinnitus to get worse for days. You’re regularly trying new treatments and techniques with your hearing care expert. Eventually, your tinnitus simply becomes something you work into your daily life.
Mostly, that’s because there isn’t any cure for tinnitus. But that may be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology shows that an effective and permanent cure for tinnitus could be on the horizon.
Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus normally is experienced as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (although, tinnitus could be experienced as other noises as well) that don’t have an objective cause. A condition that impacts over 50 million people in the United States alone, it’s incredibly common for people to have tinnitus.
It’s also a symptom, in general, and not a cause in and of itself. In other words, something triggers tinnitus – tinnitus symptoms are the result of some underlying concern. One reason why a “cure” for tinnitus is challenging is that these root causes can be challenging to pin down. Tinnitus symptoms can manifest due to quite a few reasons.
It is true, the majority of people connect tinnitus to loss of hearing of some type, but even that relationship is uncertain. There is some link but there are some people who have tinnitus and don’t have any hearing loss.
Inflammation: a New Culprit
Dr. Shaowen Bao, who is associate professor of physiology at Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon has recently released research. Mice that had tinnitus triggered by noise induced hearing loss were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And a new culprit for tinnitus was revealed by her and her team: inflammation.
According to the tests and scans done on these mice, inflammation was found in the parts of the brain responsible for listening. These tests suggest that noise-induced hearing loss is causing some unidentified injury because inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage.
But this finding of inflammation also leads to the opportunity for a new kind of therapy. Because we know (generally speaking) how to deal with inflammation. The tinnitus symptoms disappear when the mice were treated for inflammation. Or at the very least there were no longer observable symptoms of tinnitus.
So is There a Pill to Treat Tinnitus?
One day there will probably 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 at bay.
There are a couple of obstacles but that is certainly the goal:
- First off, these experiments were conducted on mice. This method is not yet approved for people and it may be a while before that happens.
- All new approaches need to be proven safe; it could take some time to identify specific side effects, concerns, or challenges related to these specific inflammation-blocking medications.
- There are many causes for tinnitus; Whether any specific types of tinnitus are connected to inflammation is still unclear.
So, a pill for tinnitus could be a long way off. But it isn’t impossible. If you suffer from tinnitus now, that means a tremendous boost in hope. And, of course, this strategy in managing tinnitus is not the only one presently being researched. Every new discovery, every new bit of understanding, brings that cure for tinnitus just a bit nearer.
What Can You do Today?
If you have a persistent buzzing or ringing in your ears today, the potential of a far off pill may provide you with hope – but not necessarily relief. Modern treatments may not “cure” your tinnitus but they do produce real results.
Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus sounds, sometimes employing noise canceling headphones or cognitive therapies is what modern methods are aiming to do. A cure could be several years off, but that doesn’t mean you should cope with tinnitus by yourself or unassisted. Discovering a therapy that works can help you spend more time doing what you enjoy, and less time thinking about that buzzing or ringing in your ears. Get in touch with us for a consultation today.