Figuring out how to live with tinnitus is often how you manage it. To help tune it out you leave the television on. And loud music at bars is making your tinnitus worse so you avoid going dancing. You check in with specialists frequently to try out new therapies and new techniques. Eventually, your tinnitus just becomes something you work into your everyday life.
For the most part, that’s because there isn’t any cure for tinnitus. Changes might be coming, however. New research published in PLOS Biology suggests that an effective and permanent cure for tinnitus might be on the horizon.
Tinnitus usually is experienced as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (though, tinnitus might be present as other sounds as well) that don’t have a concrete cause. A condition that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, it’s very common for people to suffer from tinnitus.
It’s also a symptom, broadly speaking, and not a cause in and of itself. In other words, something causes tinnitus – there’s a root problem that creates tinnitus symptoms. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is challenging is that these underlying causes can be challenging to pin down. Tinnitus symptoms can occur due to numerous reasons.
True, most people connect tinnitus to hearing loss of some type, but even that relationship is unclear. There is some relationship 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 published research. Dr. Bao did experiments on mice who had tinnitus caused by noise-induced hearing loss. And what she and her team observed implies a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Inflammation was found in the brain areas responsible for hearing when scans were performed on these mice. These tests suggest that noise-induced hearing loss is producing some unknown injury because inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage.
But a new type of approach is also opened up by these results. Because we understand (generally speaking) how to handle inflammation. The tinnitus symptoms disappear when the mice were treated for inflammation. Or, at least, those symptoms were no longer observable.
So is There a Pill to Treat Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough view, you can probably look at this study and see how, one day, there could definitely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if keeping your tinnitus at bay was a simple matter of taking your morning medication and you could avoid all of the coping mechanisms you have to do now.
That’s certainly the goal, but there are numerous huge obstacles in the way:
- There are many causes for tinnitus; Whether any specific forms of tinnitus are connected to inflammation is still not certain.
- First, these experiments were done on mice. And it will be a while before this particular approach is safe and authorized for use on people.
- We still need to establish whether any new strategy is safe; it may take a while to identify specific side effects, complications, or challenges related to these specific medications that block inflammation.
So it could be a long way off before we have a pill to treat tinnitus. But at least now it’s possible. That should offer anyone who has tinnitus substantial hope. And, clearly, this strategy in dealing with tinnitus is not the only one presently being researched. That cure gets closer and closer with every bit of practical 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 constant buzzing or ringing right now. Current 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 ignore the sounds connected to your tinnitus. A cure might be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you should deal with tinnitus alone or unassisted. Spending less time being stressed about the buzzing or ringing in your ears and more time doing what you enjoy is the reason why you need to let us help you find a therapy that works for you. Set up your appointment right away.