Figuring out how to live with tinnitus is often how you manage it. To help tune it out you keep the television on. And loud music at bars is causing your hearing loss to get worse so you avoid going dancing. You’re regularly trying new treatments and techniques with your hearing care expert. Eventually, your tinnitus just becomes something you fold into your everyday life.
Tinnitus has no cure so you feel powerless. But that might be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology suggests that an effective and permanent cure for tinnitus could be coming soon.
Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus usually is experienced as a ringing or buzzing in the ear (though, tinnitus might be experienced as other noises too) that don’t have a concrete cause. A problem that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, it’s very common for people to suffer from tinnitus.
It’s also a symptom, generally speaking, and not a cause unto itself. In other words, tinnitus is caused by something else – tinnitus symptoms are the outcome of some underlying concern. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is challenging is that these root causes can be hard to narrow down. There are many possible causes for tinnitus symptoms.
It is true, most people attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some kind, but even that link is unclear. There is some connection but some people have tinnitus and don’t have any hearing loss.
A New Culprit: Inflammation
Dr. Shaowen Bao, who is associate professor of physiology at Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon has recently published a study. Mice that had tinnitus brought about by noise induced hearing loss were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And a new culprit for tinnitus was revealed by her and her team: inflammation.
Inflammation was seen in the brain centers responsible for hearing when scans were performed on these mice. As inflammation is the body’s reaction to injury, this finding does indicate that noise-induced loss of hearing may be causing some harm we don’t fully understand yet.
But this discovery of inflammation also brings about the opportunity for a new kind of therapy. Because we know (generally speaking) how to handle inflammation. 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 to Treat Tinnitus?
If you take a patient enough viewpoint, you can probably 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.
There are a couple of obstacles but that is certainly the goal:
- These experiments were first performed on mice. And there’s a long way to go before this particular approach is safe and authorized for use on people.
- We still have to prove if any new method is safe; these inflammation blocking medications might have unsafe side effects that could take some time to identify.
- Not everybody’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; it’s difficult to understand (for now) whether all or even most tinnitus is associated with inflammation of some type.
So it could be pretty far off before we get a pill to treat tinnitus. But it isn’t impossible. That should bring anyone who has tinnitus significant hope. And other solutions are also being researched. Every new discovery, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a little bit nearer.
What Can You do Today?
You might have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that won’t give you any relief for your constant buzzing or ringing right now. There are current therapies for tinnitus that can produce real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the root problem.
Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus noises, sometimes employing noise canceling headphones or cognitive therapies is what modern strategies are aiming to do. You don’t need to wait for a cure to get relief, you can find help coping with your tinnitus now. Spending less time being stressed about the buzzing or ringing in your ears and more time doing what you love is the reason why you should let us help you discover a treatment that works for you. Contact us for a consultation now.