Figuring out how to live with tinnitus is often how you manage it. You leave the television on to help you tune out the constant ringing. You avoid going dancing because the loudness of the bar causes your tinnitus to get worse for days. You consult with specialists constantly to try out new solutions and new strategies. Eventually, your tinnitus just becomes something you fold into your daily way of life.
For the most part, that’s because there isn’t any cure for tinnitus. Changes might be coming, however. New research published in PLOS Biology suggests that an reliable and permanent cure for tinnitus may be coming soon.
Causes of Tinnitus
You’re experiencing tinnitus if you hear a ringing or buzzing (or occasionally other noises) with no objective cause. A condition that impacts over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is incredibly common.
It’s also a symptom, generally speaking, and not a cause unto itself. Simply put, something causes tinnitus – there’s an underlying issue that brings about tinnitus symptoms. These underlying causes can be difficult to diagnose and that’s one reason why a cure is evasive. Tinnitus symptoms can occur due to numerous reasons.
It is true, most people attribute tinnitus to loss of hearing of some kind, but even that link is unclear. 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 performed experiments on mice who had tinnitus triggered by noise-induced hearing loss. And a new culprit for tinnitus was discovered by her and her team: inflammation.
Based on the scans and tests done on these mice, inflammation was found in the parts of the brain in control of hearing. These Scans reveal that noise-induced hearing loss is causing some unknown damage because inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage.
But this finding of inflammation also leads to the opportunity for a new type of therapy. Because handling inflammation is something we understand how to do (generally). When the mice were given medication that inhibited the observed inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus vanished. Or at the very least there were no longer observable symptoms of tinnitus.
Does This Mean There’s a Pill to Treat Tinnitus?
One day there will most likely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if keeping your tinnitus at bay was a routine matter of taking your morning medication and you could avoid all of the coping mechanisms you have to do now.
There are some obstacles but that is certainly the goal:
- There are many causes for tinnitus; it’s really difficult to know (at this point) whether all or even most tinnitus is related to inflammation of some kind.
- First off, these experiments were performed on mice. And there’s a long way to go before this particular approach is safe and authorized for use on humans.
- We still need to prove if any new method is safe; these inflammation blocking medications may have unsafe side effects that still need to be identified.
So, a pill to treat tinnitus could be pretty far off. But at least now it’s achievable. That should give anyone who has tinnitus considerable hope. And other approaches are also being researched. Every new discovery, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus a little bit closer.
Ca Anything be Done Now?
You could have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that isn’t going to give you any comfort for your chronic buzzing or ringing right now. There are current therapies for tinnitus that can deliver real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the root issue.
Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus noises, sometimes using noise canceling headphones or cognitive therapies is what modern methods are trying to do. A cure might be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you should cope with tinnitus alone or unaided. Finding 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. Get in touch with us for a consultation right away.