Figuring out how to live 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 experts constantly to try out new treatments and new strategies. You simply work tinnitus into your daily life eventually.
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 seems to offer hope that we might be getting closer to a permanent and effective cure for tinnitus.
You’re experiencing tinnitus if you hear a buzzing or ringing (or in some cases other noises) with no apparent cause. A condition that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is very common.
It’s also a symptom, broadly speaking, and not a cause in and of itself. In other words, tinnitus is caused 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 challenging. Tinnitus symptoms can manifest due to quite a few reasons.
It is true, the majority of people attribute tinnitus to loss of hearing of some kind, but even that link is uncertain. There’s a connection, sure, but not all people who have tinnitus also have hearing loss (and vice versa).
Inflammation: a New Culprit
The new study published in PLOS Biology detailed a study lead by Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor of physiology at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon. Mice that had tinnitus triggered 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 tests and scans done on these mice, inflammation was observed around the areas of the brain in control of listening. As inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage, this finding does indicate that noise-induced hearing loss may be causing some harm we don’t fully understand yet.
But this finding of inflammation also leads to the opportunity for a new type of therapy. Because we know (generally speaking) how to handle inflammation. When the mice were given medication that impeded the detected inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus disappeared. 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 likely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if keeping your tinnitus at bay was a simple matter of taking your morning medicine and you could escape from all of the coping mechanisms you need to do now.
There are a couple of obstacles but that is certainly the goal:
- All new approaches need to be confirmed to be safe; these inflammation blocking medications could have unsafe side effects that could take some time to identify.
- These experiments were performed first on mice. This strategy is not approved yet for people and it may be quite some time before that happens.
- There are several causes for tinnitus; Which specific types of tinnitus are related to inflammation is still not certain.
So, a pill to treat tinnitus may be a long way off. But it isn’t impossible. If you have tinnitus now, that represents a significant boost in hope. And, clearly, this strategy in managing tinnitus is not the only one presently being researched. Every new discovery, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a bit closer.
What Can You do Today?
You might have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that won’t give you any comfort for your constant buzzing or ringing right now. There are modern therapies for tinnitus that can produce real results, even if they don’t really “cure” the underlying problem.
Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus noises, sometimes using noise canceling headphones or cognitive therapies is what modern techniques are aiming to do. A cure might be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with tinnitus on your own or unassisted. 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. Schedule your appointment today.