When you have tinnitus, you learn to cope with 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 avoid going dancing. You’re regularly trying new solutions and techniques with your specialist. You just work tinnitus into your everyday life eventually.
For the most part, that’s because there isn’t any cure for tinnitus. But that might be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology seems to offer hope that we might be getting closer to a permanent and reliable cure for tinnitus.
Causes of Tinnitus
You’re suffering from tinnitus if you hear a buzzing or ringing (or at times other noises) with no objective cause. A problem that impacts over 50 million people in the United States alone, it’s incredibly common for people to suffer from tinnitus.
And it’s not a cause itself but an indication of some other problem. Simply put, tinnitus is caused 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 challenging. Tinnitus symptoms can appear due to numerous reasons.
Even the interaction between tinnitus and hearing loss is uncertain although most people associate the two. There’s a relationship, sure, but not all people who suffer from tinnitus also have loss of hearing (and vice versa).
A New Culprit: Inflammation
The new research 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 observed indicates a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Inflammation was seen in the brain centers responsible for hearing when scans were done to these mice. As inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage, this finding does indicate that noise-induced hearing loss could be creating some harm we don’t completely understand yet.
But this finding of inflammation also brings about the possibility of a new form of treatment. Because we know (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 probably be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that–rather than counting on these various coping elements, you can just take a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus under control.
That’s clearly the goal, but there are several significant obstacles in the way:
- Not everyone’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; Which particular forms of tinnitus are related to inflammation is still unclear.
- We still need to establish whether any new method is safe; these inflammation blocking medications may have unsafe side effects that could take some time to identify.
- First off, these experiments were performed on mice. This method isn’t approved yet for people and it might be a while before it is.
So, a pill to treat tinnitus might be a long way off. But at least it’s now possible. If you have tinnitus today, that represents a substantial boost in hope. And, obviously, this approach in managing tinnitus is not the only one presently being studied. Every new discovery, every new bit of understanding, brings that cure for tinnitus just a bit closer.
Ca Anything be Done Now?
If you have a continual ringing or buzzing in your ears now, the potential of a far off pill may give you hope – but not necessarily relief. Current treatments may not “cure” your tinnitus but they do produce real results.
Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus noises, sometimes using noise canceling headphones or cognitive therapies is what modern techniques are aiming to do. You don’t need to wait for a cure to find relief, you can find help coping with your tinnitus now. Finding a therapy that works can help you spend more time doing what you enjoy, and less time thinking about that buzzing or ringing in your ears. Make your appointment right away.