Learning to cope with tinnitus is often how you manage it. To help tune it out you keep the television on. You avoid going dancing because the loud music at the bar causes your tinnitus to get worse for days after. You check in with specialists frequently to try out new treatments and new techniques. Eventually, your tinnitus simply becomes something you work into your everyday way of life.
Tinnitus has no cure so you feel helpless. Changes might be coming, however. New research published in PLOS Biology seems to provide promise that we might be getting closer to a permanent and reliable cure for tinnitus.
Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus usually manifests as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (although, tinnitus may be present as other sounds also) that don’t have an objective cause. A problem that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, it’s incredibly common for people to suffer from tinnitus.
It’s also a symptom, in general, and not a cause in and of itself. In other words, tinnitus is triggered by something else – tinnitus symptoms are the result of some root concern. These root causes can be hard to diagnose and that’s one reason why a cure is evasive. Tinnitus symptoms can occur due to quite a few reasons.
Even the interaction between tinnitus and loss of hearing is uncertain even though the majority of people associate the two. There’s a correlation, certainly, but not all people who have tinnitus also have loss of hearing (and vice versa).
Inflammation: a New Culprit
The new study published in PLOS Biology outlined a study lead by Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor of physiology at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon. Mice that had tinnitus triggered by noise induced loss of hearing were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And what she and her team discovered implies a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Based on the tests and scans done on these mice, inflammation was observed across the areas of the brain responsible for listening. As inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage, this finding does suggest that noise-induced hearing loss could be creating some damage we don’t fully understand yet.
But a new type of treatment is also opened up by these results. Because we understand (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?
One day there will likely 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 definitely the objective, but there are various significant hurdles in the way:
- Not everyone’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; it’s difficult to understand (for now) whether all or even most tinnitus is associated with inflammation of some type.
- We still have to prove if any new approach is safe; it might take some time to identify specific side effects, concerns, or problems related to these particular inflammation-blocking medications.
- To begin with, these experiments were done on mice. This method isn’t approved yet for humans and it may be quite some time before that happens.
So, a pill to treat tinnitus could be a long way off. But at least it’s now possible. That should bring anyone who has tinnitus significant hope. And, of course, this approach in dealing with tinnitus is not the only one currently being researched. That cure gets closer and closer with every bit of practical knowledge and every new finding.
What Can You do Today?
If you have a continual buzzing or ringing in your ears now, the potential of a far off pill may give you hope – but probably not relief. There are current treatments for tinnitus that can produce real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the root issue.
Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus noises, sometimes utilizing noise canceling headphones or cognitive therapies is what modern methods are aiming to do. You don’t have to wait for a cure to find relief, you can get 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. Schedule your appointment today.