Learning to live with tinnitus is often how you manage it. You keep the television on to help you tune out the constant ringing. And loud music at bars is causing your hearing loss to get worse so you stay away from going dancing. You check in with specialists constantly to try out new solutions and new strategies. You simply fold tinnitus into your daily life eventually.
Tinnitus has no cure so you feel powerless. But that may be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology indicates that an reliable and permanent cure for tinnitus may be coming.
You’re experiencing tinnitus if you hear a buzzing or ringing (or sometimes other noises) with no apparent cause. A condition that impacts over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is incredibly common.
And it’s not a cause itself but an indication of some other problem. Simply put, tinnitus is caused by something else – tinnitus symptoms are the result of some root problem. These underlying causes can be hard to diagnose and that’s one reason why a cure is elusive. Tinnitus symptoms can manifest due to numerous reasons.
True, the majority of people attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some type, but even that relationship is unclear. There’s a relationship, sure, but not all people who suffer from tinnitus also have loss of hearing (and vice versa).
Inflammation: a New Culprit
The new study published in PLOS Biology outlined a study performed by Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor of physiology at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon. Dr. Bao did experiments on mice who had tinnitus induced by noise-induced hearing loss. And what she and her team observed indicates a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Inflammation was found around the brain centers used for hearing when scans were performed on these mice. As inflammation is the body’s reaction to injury, this finding does suggest that noise-induced hearing loss might be creating some damage we don’t completely understand yet.
But a new type of approach is also opened up by these findings. Because dealing with inflammation is something we understand how to do (generally). When the mice were given medication that impeded the observed inflammation reaction, the symptoms of tinnitus vanished. Or at the very least there were no longer observable symptoms of tinnitus.
So is There a Pill For Tinnitus?
If you take a patient enough viewpoint, you can definitely look at this study and see how, one day, there may easily be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if keeping your tinnitus at bay was a simple matter of taking your morning medicine and you could avoid all of the coping mechanisms you have to do now.
That’s clearly the objective, but there are various huge hurdles in the way:
- There are many causes for tinnitus; Which particular forms of tinnitus are associated with inflammation is still unclear.
- To start with, these experiments were conducted on mice. This approach is not approved yet for humans and it could be a while before it is.
- We still need to establish whether any new approach is safe; it could take a while to determine specific side effects, complications, or problems related to these particular inflammation-blocking medications.
So it could be pretty far off before we have a pill to treat tinnitus. But it isn’t impossible. That should give anyone who has tinnitus considerable hope. And other techniques are also being studied. Every new discovery, every new bit of understanding, brings that cure for tinnitus just a bit closer.
What Can You do Today?
If you have a continual ringing or buzzing in your ears now, the promise of a far off pill may give you hope – but probably not relief. There are current therapies for tinnitus that can deliver real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the underlying issue.
Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus noises, sometimes using noise canceling headphones or cognitive techniques is what modern techniques are striving to do. A cure might be several years away, but that doesn’t mean you should cope with tinnitus on your own or unassisted. 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. Schedule your appointment today.