When you have tinnitus, you learn to deal with it. To help tune it out you leave the television on. And loud music at bars is causing your hearing loss to get worse so you avoid going dancing. You consult with experts frequently to try out new therapies and new strategies. Eventually, your tinnitus simply becomes something you fold into your everyday life.
Tinnitus doesn’t have a cure so you feel helpless. But that might be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology shows that an reliable and permanent cure for tinnitus may be on the horizon.
You’re experiencing tinnitus if you hear a ringing or buzzing (or sometimes other sounds) with no apparent cause. A problem that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, it’s incredibly common for people to suffer from tinnitus.
It’s also a symptom, in general, and not a cause in and of itself. In other words, tinnitus is triggered by something else – tinnitus symptoms are the result of some underlying concern. These root causes can be hard to diagnose and that’s one reason why a cure is elusive. There are various possible reasons for tinnitus symptoms.
True, most people attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some kind, but even that link is unclear. There’s a correlation, sure, but not all people who suffer from tinnitus also have hearing loss (and vice versa).
A New Culprit: Inflammation
The new research published in PLOS Biology outlined a study performed 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 loss of hearing were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And what she and her team found out suggests a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Inflammation was found around the brain centers used for hearing when scans were done to these mice. As inflammation is the body’s response to injury, this finding does indicate that noise-induced hearing loss may be causing some damage we don’t fully understand yet.
But this finding of inflammation also leads to the possibility of a new form of therapy. Because dealing with inflammation is something we know how to do (in general). When the mice were given drugs that impeded the detected inflammation reaction, the symptoms of tinnitus disappeared. Or, at least, those symptoms weren’t observable any longer
So is There a Pill to Treat Tinnitus?
If you take a patient enough view, you can probably look at this research and see how, one day, there could easily be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if keeping your tinnitus under control was a routine matter of taking your morning medication and you could escape from all of the coping mechanisms you need to do now.
That’s certainly the objective, but there are various big obstacles in the way:
- Any new approach needs to be confirmed to be safe; it could take some time to identify specific side effects, complications, or challenges related to these particular medications that block inflammation.
- First, these experiments were conducted on mice. This approach is not yet approved for people and it may be quite some time before it is.
- Not everybody’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; Whether any specific forms of tinnitus are connected to inflammation is still unclear.
So, a pill for tinnitus could be pretty far off. But it’s no longer impossible. That should give anyone who has tinnitus significant hope. And, of course, this strategy in treating tinnitus is not the only one presently being studied. Every new discovery, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus a little bit closer.
What Can You do Today?
If you have a chronic ringing or buzzing in your ears now, the promise of a far off pill might give you hope – but probably not relief. Modern treatments may not “cure” your tinnitus but they do provide real results.
Some strategies include noise-cancellation units or cognitive therapies created to help you ignore the sounds related to your tinnitus. A cure might be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you have to cope with tinnitus alone or unaided. Discovering 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 right away.