Learning 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 consult with specialists constantly to try new therapies and new techniques. Eventually, your tinnitus simply becomes something you fold into your everyday way of life.
Tinnitus doesn’t have a cure so you feel powerless. Changes could be coming, however. New research published in PLOS Biology indicates that an effective and permanent cure for tinnitus could be coming soon.
Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus usually is experienced as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (though, tinnitus could be experienced as other noises as well) that do not have an objective cause. A condition that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, it’s remarkably common for people to have tinnitus.
And it isn’t a cause itself but an indication of some other problem. In other words, tinnitus is triggered by something else – there’s a root problem that creates tinnitus symptoms. These underlying causes can be tough to diagnose and that’s one reason why a cure is elusive. Tinnitus symptoms can manifest due to numerous reasons.
It is true, the majority of people attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some type, but even that link is unclear. There’s a correlation, sure, but not all people who suffer from tinnitus also have loss of hearing (and vice versa).
Inflammation: a New Culprit
Dr. Shaowen Bao, who is associate professor of physiology at Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon has recently released a study. Dr. Bao did experiments on mice who had tinnitus induced by noise-induced loss of hearing. And what she and her team observed implies a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
According to the scans and tests carried out on these mice, inflammation was observed around the parts of the brain in control of hearing. These Scans reveal that noise-induced hearing loss is causing some unidentified damage because inflammation is the body’s response to damage.
But a new kind of approach is also made available by these results. Because dealing with inflammation is something we know how to do (generally). When the mice were given medication that inhibited the detected inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus vanished. Or at the very least there were no longer observable symptoms of tinnitus.
So is There a Pill to Treat Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough viewpoint, you can definitely look at this research and see how, one day, there could easily be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if keeping your tinnitus at bay was a routine matter of taking your morning medicine and you could escape from all of the coping mechanisms you have to do now.
That’s certainly the goal, but there are several significant hurdles in the way:
- These experiments were performed first on mice. And there’s a long way to go before this particular approach is safe and authorized for use on humans.
- We still need to prove if any new method is safe; these inflammation blocking medications may have dangerous side effects that could take some time to identify.
- There are many causes for tinnitus; it’s difficult to know (at this point) whether all or even most tinnitus is associated with inflammation of some kind.
So it could be a long way off before we get a pill to treat tinnitus. But it’s no longer impossible. That should offer anybody who has tinnitus considerable hope. And, clearly, this strategy in managing tinnitus is not the only one currently being studied. Every new discovery, every new bit of understanding, brings that cure for tinnitus a little bit nearer.
What Can You do Today?
If you have a continual buzzing or ringing in your ears today, the promise of a far off pill might give you hope – but not necessarily relief. Current treatments may not “cure” your tinnitus but they do give real results.
Some methods include noise-cancellation units or cognitive therapies manufactured to help you dismiss the noises linked to your tinnitus. You don’t have to wait for a cure to find relief, you can find help coping with your tinnitus right now. Finding 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. Set up your appointment right away.