Figuring out how 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 makes your tinnitus worse for days after. You check in with specialists constantly to try new treatments and new techniques. You simply work tinnitus into your daily life after a while.
Tinnitus has no cure so you feel helpless. But that might be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology seems to offer promise that we may be getting closer to a permanent and reliable cure for tinnitus.
Causes of Tinnitus
You’re suffering from tinnitus if you hear a ringing or buzzing (or at times other sounds) with no apparent cause. A condition that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is incredibly common.
It’s also a symptom, broadly speaking, and not a cause in and of itself. Put simply, something triggers tinnitus – tinnitus symptoms are the outcome of some underlying problem. One reason why a “cure” for tinnitus is challenging is that these underlying causes can be difficult to pin down. There are various possible reasons for tinnitus symptoms.
True, the majority of people connect tinnitus to loss of hearing of some kind, but even that connection is uncertain. There’s a connection, sure, but not all people who suffer from tinnitus also have hearing loss (and vice versa).
Inflammation: a New Culprit
Dr. Shaowen Bao, who is associate professor of physiology at Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon has recently published research. Dr. Bao did experiments on mice who had tinnitus caused by noise-induced loss of hearing. And what she and her team discovered indicates a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Inflammation was found in 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 suggest that noise-induced loss of hearing might be creating some damage we don’t completely understand yet.
But this finding of inflammation also brings about the opportunity for a new kind of treatment. Because handling inflammation is something we understand how to do (generally). The tinnitus symptoms disappear when the mice were treated for inflammation. Or, at a minimum, those symptoms were no longer observable.
So is There a Pill For Tinnitus?
One day there will probably be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that–rather than investing in these various coping mechanisms, you can just pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
There are a few hurdles but that is certainly the goal:
- We still need to prove if any new method is safe; it might take some time to identify precise side effects, concerns, or challenges related to these specific inflammation-blocking medications.
- These experiments were first performed on mice. This strategy is not yet approved for humans and it might be a while before it is.
- There are various causes for tinnitus; Whether any specific types of tinnitus are related to inflammation is still unclear.
So it could be a long way off before we get a pill to treat tinnitus. But at least now it’s feasible. If you suffer from tinnitus today, that represents a significant increase in hope. And other solutions are also being studied. Every new finding, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a bit closer.
What Can You do Today?
You might have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that won’t offer you any relief for your chronic buzzing or ringing now. There are current therapies for tinnitus that can give real results, even if they don’t really “cure” the root problem.
Some methods include noise-cancellation units or cognitive therapies manufactured to help you brush off the noises related to your tinnitus. A cure may be several years away, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with tinnitus alone or unassisted. 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.