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 check in with specialists frequently to try new therapies and new techniques. Eventually, your tinnitus simply becomes something you fold into your daily life.
Mostly, that’s because there’s no cure for tinnitus. Changes could be coming, however. New research published in PLOS Biology seems to offer promise that we might be getting closer to a permanent and effective cure for tinnitus.
You’re suffering from tinnitus if you hear a ringing or buzzing (or occasionally other noises) with no apparent cause. A problem that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is very common.
And it isn’t a cause itself but an indication of something else. Simply put, tinnitus is triggered by something else – there’s a root problem that creates tinnitus symptoms. One reason why a “cure” for tinnitus is evasive is that these underlying causes can be difficult to narrow down. There are many possible reasons for tinnitus symptoms.
Even the interaction between tinnitus and hearing loss is unclear although most people connect the two. There’s a correlation, sure, but not all people who have 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 a study. Mice that had tinnitus triggered by noise induced hearing loss were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And what she and her team discovered suggests a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Based on the scans and tests done on these mice, inflammation was observed around the areas of the brain responsible for listening. These tests indicate that noise-induced hearing loss is producing some unidentified damage because inflammation is the body’s response to damage.
But a new type of treatment is also made possible by these discoveries. Because we understand (generally speaking) how to handle inflammation. When the mice were given medication that inhibited the detected inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus faded away. Or, at least, those symptoms weren’t observable any longer
Does This Mean There’s a Pill to Treat Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough view, you can definitely look at this study and see how, one day, there could definitely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that–instead of counting on these various coping elements, you can just pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
There are some hurdles but that is certainly the goal:
- There are a number of causes for tinnitus; it’s hard to understand (for now) whether all or even most tinnitus is related to inflammation of some type.
- To begin with, these experiments were done on mice. This strategy is not approved yet for people and it could be quite some time before that happens.
- We still need to prove if any new method is safe; it might take some time to identify precise side effects, complications, or challenges related to these specific medications that block inflammation.
So, a pill to treat tinnitus could be a long way off. But at least now it’s feasible. That should give anybody who has tinnitus considerable hope. And, clearly, this approach in treating tinnitus is not the only one presently being studied. Every new discovery, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a little bit closer.
What Can You do Today?
If you have a chronic ringing or buzzing in your ears today, the potential of a far off pill might provide you with hope – but probably not relief. There are current treatments for tinnitus that can deliver real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the underlying problem.
Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus sounds, oftentimes using noise canceling headphones or cognitive techniques is what modern strategies are trying to do. A cure could be several years off, but that doesn’t mean you have to cope with tinnitus by yourself or unaided. Discovering 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. Set up your appointment right away.