Learning 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 avoid going dancing. You consult with specialists regularly to try new therapies and new strategies. You just work tinnitus into your everyday life eventually.
Tinnitus doesn’t have a cure so you feel helpless. But that may be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology indicates that an reliable and permanent cure for tinnitus may be on the horizon.
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 remarkably common for people to suffer from tinnitus.
It’s also a symptom, broadly speaking, and not a cause unto itself. Put simply, tinnitus is caused by something else – tinnitus symptoms are the outcome of some root problem. These root 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 connection between tinnitus and hearing loss is unclear even though most people connect the two. There’s a connection, certainly, but not all people who suffer from tinnitus also have hearing loss (and vice versa).
A New Culprit: Inflammation
Dr. Shaowen Bao, who is associate professor of physiology at Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon has recently published research. Dr. Bao performed experiments on mice who had tinnitus caused by noise-induced loss of hearing. And what she and her team discovered implies a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Based on the tests and scans performed on these mice, inflammation was found across the areas of the brain in control of hearing. These tests reveal that noise-induced hearing loss is contributing to some unidentified injury because inflammation is the body’s response to damage.
But this discovery of inflammation also brings about the possibility of a new type of treatment. Because handling inflammation is something we know how to do (in general). 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 to Treat Tinnitus?
One day there will most likely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if keeping your tinnitus at bay was a routine matter of taking your morning medicine and you could avoid all of the coping mechanisms you need to do now.
There are a couple of obstacles but that is certainly the goal:
- First, these experiments were conducted on mice. And it will be a while before this particular approach is safe and approved for humans.
- Not everybody’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; it’s really difficult to know (at this point) whether all or even most tinnitus is related to inflammation of some kind.
- We still need to establish whether any new strategy is safe; these inflammation blocking medications may have harmful side effects that could take some time to identify.
So it could be a long way off before we have a pill to treat tinnitus. But it’s no longer impossible. That should offer anybody who has tinnitus significant hope. And other approaches are also being studied. Every new discovery, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a bit nearer.
Ca Anything be Done Now?
If you have a chronic buzzing or ringing in your ears now, the potential of a far off pill may give you hope – but probably not relief. There are modern therapies for tinnitus that can produce real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the underlying issue.
Some strategies include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies created to help you brush aside the sounds related to your tinnitus. You don’t need to wait for a cure to get relief, you can get help dealing with your tinnitus right 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. Schedule your appointment today.