Figuring out how to cope 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 stay away from going dancing. You consult with experts regularly to try out new treatments and new strategies. Eventually, your tinnitus simply becomes something you work into your daily life.
Tinnitus has no cure so you feel helpless. Changes could be coming, however. New research published in PLOS Biology seems to offer hope that we might be getting closer to a permanent and effective cure for tinnitus.
Tinnitus commonly is experienced as a ringing or buzzing in the ear (although, tinnitus could be present as other sounds as well) that don’t have an objective cause. A problem that impacts over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is very common.
And it’s not a cause itself but an indication of something else. In other words, tinnitus is caused by something else – there’s a root problem that creates tinnitus symptoms. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is elusive is that these root causes can be difficult to pin down. There are numerous possible reasons for tinnitus symptoms.
Even the association between tinnitus and loss of hearing is unclear though most people associate the two. There’s a relationship, certainly, but not all people who have tinnitus also have hearing loss (and vice versa).
Inflammation: a New Culprit
The new research published in PLOS Biology highlighted a study performed by Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor of physiology at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon. Mice that had tinnitus caused by noise induced loss of hearing were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And what she and her team discovered indicates a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Inflammation was seen in the brain areas used for hearing when scans were performed on these mice. These tests suggest that noise-induced hearing loss is contributing to some unknown damage because inflammation is the body’s response to damage.
But a new type of treatment is also made available by these discoveries. Because handling inflammation is something we understand how to do (generally). The tinnitus symptoms disappear 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?
If you take a patient enough view, you can definitely look at this study and see how, one day, there could easily be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that–instead of counting on these various coping mechanisms, 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 hurdles in the way:
- There are a number of causes for tinnitus; it’s difficult to know (at this point) whether all or even most tinnitus is associated with inflammation of some type.
- These experiments were first performed on mice. This strategy isn’t approved yet for humans and it might be a while before that happens.
- All new approaches need to be confirmed to be safe; it could take a while to identify precise side effects, concerns, or problems related to these specific medications that block inflammation.
So it could be a long way off before we get a pill to treat tinnitus. But at least it’s now achievable. If you suffer from tinnitus now, that signifies a tremendous boost in hope. And, obviously, this approach in treating tinnitus is not the only one presently being studied. That cure gets closer and closer with every bit of knowledge and every new discovery.
What Can You do Today?
You could have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that won’t offer you any relief for your persistent buzzing or ringing right now. Modern treatments may not “cure” your tinnitus but they do give real results.
Some techniques include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies manufactured to help you ignore 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 now. Discovering a treatment that works can help you spend more time doing what you enjoy, and less time thinking about that buzzing or ringing in your ears. Get in touch with us for a consultation today.