Learning to cope with tinnitus is often how you manage it. You keep the television on to help you tune the constant ringing out. And loud music at bars is making your tinnitus worse so you avoid going dancing. You’re always trying new treatments and strategies with your specialist. Eventually, your tinnitus simply becomes something you fold into your daily life.
For the most part, that’s because there isn’t any cure for tinnitus. But that could be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology suggests that an effective and permanent cure for tinnitus might be coming.
Tinnitus usually manifests as a ringing or buzzing in the ear (although, tinnitus could be present as other sounds also) that do not have an objective cause. A problem that impacts over 50 million people in the United States alone, it’s incredibly common for people to have tinnitus.
It’s also a symptom, in general, and not a cause in and of itself. Put simply, tinnitus is triggered by something else – there’s a root problem that brings about tinnitus symptoms. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is challenging is that these root causes can be difficult to pin down. There are various possible reasons for tinnitus symptoms.
Even the link between tinnitus and loss of hearing is not clear though most people connect the two. There’s a relationship, certainly, but not all people who suffer from tinnitus also have loss of hearing (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. Mice that had tinnitus caused by noise induced loss of hearing were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And a new culprit for tinnitus was revealed by her and her team: inflammation.
Based on the scans and tests performed on these mice, inflammation was seen across the parts of the brain in control of listening. These Scans suggest that noise-induced hearing loss is producing some unidentified damage because inflammation is the body’s response to damage.
But this discovery of inflammation also leads to the possibility of a new form of therapy. Because we understand (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 for Tinnitus?
One day there will probably be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if keeping your tinnitus under control was a routine matter of taking your morning medicine and you could avoid all of the coping mechanisms you have to do now.
That’s certainly the goal, but there are numerous substantial hurdles in the way:
- Any new approach needs to be proven safe; it may take some time to identify precise side effects, concerns, or issues related to these particular inflammation-blocking medications.
- To start with, these experiments were performed on mice. This method is not approved yet for humans and it might be some time before that happens.
- Not everybody’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; it’s difficult to understand (at this point) whether all or even most tinnitus is related to inflammation of some type.
So it could be pretty far off before we have a pill to treat tinnitus. But it’s no longer impossible. That should bring anybody who has tinnitus significant hope. And, of course, this strategy in dealing with tinnitus is not the only one presently being researched. Every new discovery, every new bit of understanding, brings that cure for tinnitus just a little bit nearer.
Ca Anything be Done Now?
You might have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that won’t give you any comfort for your prolonged buzzing or ringing now. Modern treatments may not “cure” your tinnitus but they do give real results.
Some methods include noise-cancellation units or cognitive therapies designed to help you ignore the sounds related to your tinnitus. You don’t need to wait for a cure to find relief, you can get help coping with your tinnitus now. Discovering a treatment 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.