When you suffer from tinnitus, you learn to deal with it. You keep the television on to help you tune out the constant ringing. And loud music at bars is making your tinnitus worse so you stay away from going dancing. You check in with specialists frequently to try out new solutions and new strategies. Eventually, your tinnitus just becomes something you work into your everyday life.
Tinnitus doesn’t have a cure so you feel helpless. Changes may be coming, however. New research published in PLOS Biology seems to offer promise that we may be getting closer to a permanent and reliable cure for tinnitus.
Tinnitus usually manifests as a ringing or buzzing in the ear (although, tinnitus might be present as other sounds as well) that do not have a concrete 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, broadly speaking, and not a cause unto itself. In other words, tinnitus is caused by something else – tinnitus symptoms are the outcome 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 appear due to numerous reasons.
True, most people attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some type, but even that relationship is uncertain. There is some connection but there are some people who have tinnitus and don’t have any loss of hearing.
A New Culprit: Inflammation
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 caused by noise-induced hearing loss. And a new culprit for tinnitus was revealed by her and her team: 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 damage, this finding does indicate that noise-induced hearing loss could be causing some damage we don’t fully understand yet.
But this discovery of inflammation also brings about the opportunity for a new type of treatment. Because we understand (generally speaking) how to handle 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 to Treat Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough viewpoint, you can definitely look at this research and see how, one day, there may easily be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if keeping your tinnitus at bay was a routine matter of taking your morning medication and you could escape from all of the coping mechanisms you have to do now.
That’s certainly the objective, but there are many huge obstacles in the way:
- All new approaches need to be confirmed to be safe; these inflammation blocking medications could have unsafe side effects that could take some time to identify.
- These experiments were first performed on mice. This strategy isn’t yet approved for people and it may be quite some time before that happens.
- Not everyone’s tinnitus will happen the same way; Whether any particular types of tinnitus are associated with inflammation is still unclear.
So it could be a long way off before we get a pill to treat tinnitus. But at least it’s now possible. That should bring anybody who has tinnitus considerable hope. And, clearly, this approach in treating tinnitus is not the only one presently being researched. That cure gets closer with every bit of knowledge and every new discovery.
Ca Anything be Done Now?
You may have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that won’t give you any relief for your chronic buzzing or ringing now. There are modern treatments for tinnitus that can give real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the underlying issue.
Some techniques include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies designed to help you ignore the noises connected to your tinnitus. A cure may be several years off, but that doesn’t mean you have to cope with tinnitus alone or unaided. Spending less time stressing about the ringing or buzzing in your ears and more time doing what you love is the reason why you need to let us help you discover a therapy that works for you. Set up your appointment right away.