Learning to cope with tinnitus is often how you manage it. To help tune it out you keep the television on. You avoid going dancing because the loud music at the bar makes your tinnitus worse for days after. You check in with experts constantly to try out new treatments and new techniques. You just work tinnitus into your daily life eventually.
Mostly, that’s because there isn’t any cure for tinnitus. But that might be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology indicates that an effective and permanent cure for tinnitus could be coming soon.
Causes of Tinnitus
You’re suffering from tinnitus if you hear a ringing or buzzing (or occasionally other sounds) with no apparent cause. A problem that impacts over 50 million people in the United States alone, it’s very common for people to suffer from tinnitus.
It’s also a symptom, broadly speaking, and not a cause unto itself. Put simply, tinnitus is triggered by something else – there’s a root problem that creates tinnitus symptoms. These root causes can be tough to diagnose and that’s one reason why a cure is elusive. Tinnitus symptoms can manifest due to a number of reasons.
Even the interaction between tinnitus and hearing loss is uncertain though the majority of people connect the two. There is some link but there are some people who have tinnitus and don’t have any loss of hearing.
Inflammation: a New Culprit
The new research published in PLOS Biology outlined a study lead by Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor of physiology at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon. Dr. Bao did experiments on mice who had tinnitus caused by noise-induced loss of hearing. And a new culprit for tinnitus was revealed by her and her team: inflammation.
Based on the scans and tests carried out on these mice, inflammation was seen around the areas of the brain in control of hearing. These Scans suggest that noise-induced hearing loss is causing 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 kind of therapy. Because we know (generally speaking) how to deal with inflammation. When the mice were given medication that impeded the detected inflammation reaction, the symptoms of tinnitus faded away. Or at the very least there were no longer observable symptoms of tinnitus.
Does This Mean There’s a Pill for 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 routine matter of taking your morning medicine and you could avoid all of the coping mechanisms you need to do now.
There are some obstacles but that is certainly the goal:
- There are various causes for tinnitus; it’s hard to know (at this point) whether all or even most tinnitus is connected to inflammation of some type.
- Any new approach needs to be confirmed to be safe; it may take some time to determine specific side effects, concerns, or problems related to these specific inflammation-blocking medications.
- These experiments were first performed on mice. And there’s a long way to go before this particular strategy is safe and authorized for use on people.
So it could be pretty far off before we get a pill for tinnitus. But at least now it’s possible. That should give anyone who has tinnitus considerable hope. And, clearly, this approach in dealing with tinnitus is not the only one presently being studied. Every new discovery, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a bit nearer.
What Can You do Today?
You could have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that isn’t going to offer you any relief for your chronic buzzing or ringing now. Current treatments might not “cure” your tinnitus but they do provide real results.
Some techniques include noise-cancellation units or cognitive therapies designed to help you dismiss the noises related to your tinnitus. A cure could be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you should deal with tinnitus by yourself or unassisted. 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. Contact us for a consultation now.