When you have tinnitus, you learn to live with it. You keep the television on to help you tune the constant ringing out. You skip going dancing because the loudness of the bar causes your tinnitus to get worse for days. You’re regularly trying new solutions and techniques with your specialist. Eventually, your tinnitus simply becomes something you fold into your everyday way of life.
Mainly, that’s because there’s no cure for tinnitus. Changes may 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.
Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus usually is experienced as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (though, tinnitus might be present as other noises as well) that do not have a concrete cause. A problem that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is remarkably common.
It’s also a symptom, broadly speaking, and not a cause in and of itself. Put simply, something causes tinnitus – there’s an underlying issue that brings about tinnitus symptoms. One reason why a “cure” for tinnitus is challenging is that these underlying causes can be hard to narrow down. There are many possible reasons for tinnitus symptoms.
True, most people attribute tinnitus to loss of hearing of some kind, but even that link is uncertain. There’s a connection, certainly, but not all people who have tinnitus also have loss of hearing (and vice versa).
A New Culprit: Inflammation
The new research published in PLOS Biology highlighted a study lead 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 hearing loss were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And what she and her team discovered indicates a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
According to the tests and scans carried out on these mice, inflammation was observed around the parts of the brain in control of hearing. As inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage, this finding does suggest that noise-induced loss of hearing may be creating some damage we don’t completely understand yet.
But this discovery of inflammation also brings about the possibility of a new kind of therapy. Because we understand (generally speaking) how to handle inflammation. When the mice were given medication that inhibited the detected inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus disappeared. Or, at a minimum, those symptoms were no longer observable.
So is There a Pill For Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough viewpoint, you can probably look at this study and see how, one day, there may definitely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if keeping your tinnitus at bay was a routine matter of taking your morning medicine and you could escape from all of the coping mechanisms you need to do now.
There are a few obstacles but that is certainly the goal:
- Not everyone’s tinnitus will happen the same way; Whether any specific types of tinnitus are related to inflammation is still unclear.
- Any new approach needs to be confirmed to be safe; it might take a while to identify precise side effects, concerns, or issues related to these specific inflammation-blocking medications.
- To start with, these experiments were performed on mice. And it will be a while before this particular strategy is safe and approved for people.
So it could be pretty far off before we get a pill to treat tinnitus. But at least it’s now achievable. If you suffer from tinnitus today, that signifies a substantial boost in hope. And, of course, this approach in managing tinnitus is not the only one currently being researched. That cure gets closer with every bit of practical knowledge and every new finding.
What Can You do Today?
You may have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that won’t offer you any comfort for your constant buzzing or ringing right now. Current treatments might not “cure” your tinnitus but they do give real results.
Some methods include noise-cancellation units or cognitive therapies created to help you brush aside the noises related to your tinnitus. You don’t need to wait for a cure to find 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 love, and less time thinking about that buzzing or ringing in your ears. Make your appointment today.