Learning to live with tinnitus is often how you manage it. You leave the television on to help you tune out the constant ringing. You skip going dancing because the loudness of the bar makes your tinnitus worse for days. You consult with experts frequently to try new solutions and new strategies. Eventually, your tinnitus just becomes something you fold into your everyday 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 may be getting closer to a permanent and effective cure for tinnitus.
Tinnitus commonly manifests as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (although, tinnitus may be experienced as other sounds also) that don’t have a concrete cause. A condition that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is exceptionally common.
And it isn’t a cause itself but an indication of something else. Put simply, tinnitus is caused by something else – there’s an underlying issue that creates tinnitus symptoms. One reason why a “cure” for tinnitus is elusive is that these root causes can be challenging to narrow down. Tinnitus symptoms can occur due to a number of reasons.
Even the association between tinnitus and loss of hearing is not clear even though most people associate the two. There’s a relationship, sure, but not all people who have tinnitus also have loss of hearing (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. Mice that had tinnitus caused by noise induced hearing loss 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 performed on these mice. As inflammation is the body’s response to damage, this finding does indicate that noise-induced loss of hearing could be causing some harm we don’t fully understand yet.
But this finding of inflammation also brings about the possibility of a new kind of treatment. Because we understand (generally speaking) how to deal with inflammation. The tinnitus symptoms went away when the mice were treated for inflammation. Or, at a minimum, those symptoms weren’t observable any longer
Does This Mean There’s a Pill to Treat Tinnitus?
If you take a patient enough viewpoint, you can definitely look at this study and see how, one day, there could definitely 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 huge hurdles in the way:
- These experiments were first performed on mice. This strategy is not approved yet for humans and it could be quite some time before that happens.
- Not everybody’s tinnitus will happen the same way; Which particular types of tinnitus are related to inflammation is still unclear.
- We still need to prove if any new method is safe; these inflammation blocking medications might have unsafe side effects that still need to be identified.
So, a pill for tinnitus may be a long way off. But it’s no longer impossible. If you suffer from tinnitus today, that means a tremendous boost in hope. And other solutions are also being researched. That cure gets closer and closer with every bit of practical knowledge and every new discovery.
What Can You do Today?
You could have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that isn’t going to offer you any comfort for your prolonged buzzing or ringing now. Current treatments might not “cure” your tinnitus but they do produce real results.
Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus sounds, oftentimes using noise canceling headphones or cognitive techniques is what modern techniques are aiming to do. You don’t have to wait for a cure to find relief, you can find help dealing with your tinnitus 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. Set up your appointment right away.