Learning to live with tinnitus is often how you manage it. You keep the television on to help you tune out the constant ringing. And loud music at bars is making your tinnitus worse so you avoid going dancing. You’re regularly trying new therapies and strategies with your hearing care expert. Eventually, your tinnitus simply becomes something you fold into your everyday life.
For the most part, that’s because there’s no cure for tinnitus. But that might be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology shows that an effective and permanent cure for tinnitus may be coming soon.
Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus commonly is experienced as a ringing or buzzing in the ear (though, tinnitus may be experienced as other noises also) that don’t have an objective cause. A condition that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, it’s remarkably common for people to suffer from tinnitus.
It’s also a symptom, in general, and not a cause unto itself. Simply put, tinnitus is triggered by something else – tinnitus symptoms are the outcome of some root problem. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is evasive is that these underlying causes can be challenging to narrow down. There are various possible causes for tinnitus symptoms.
It is true, the majority of people attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some type, but even that relationship is uncertain. There is some connection but there are some people who have tinnitus and don’t have any loss of hearing.
A New Culprit: Inflammation
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 hearing loss were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And a new culprit for tinnitus was revealed by her and her team: inflammation.
Inflammation was found around the brain centers used for hearing when scans were performed on these mice. As inflammation is the body’s response to damage, this finding does suggest that noise-induced hearing loss may be causing some harm we don’t completely understand yet.
But this finding of inflammation also brings about the opportunity for a new kind of treatment. Because we know (generally speaking) how to deal with inflammation. The tinnitus symptoms disappear when the mice were treated for inflammation. Or, at a minimum, those symptoms weren’t observable any longer
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 simple matter of taking your morning medication and you could avoid all of the coping mechanisms you have to do now.
That’s certainly the goal, but there are different significant hurdles in the way:
- Not everyone’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; it’s really difficult to understand (for now) whether all or even most tinnitus is associated with inflammation of some type.
- All new approaches need to be proven safe; these inflammation blocking medications could have unsafe side effects that still need to be identified.
- These experiments were first performed on mice. And there’s a long way to go before this particular approach is safe and authorized for use on humans.
So it could be a long way off before we get a pill to treat tinnitus. But at least now it’s feasible. If you have tinnitus today, that represents a substantial boost in hope. And, obviously, this strategy in dealing with tinnitus is not the only one presently being researched. That cure gets closer and closer with every bit of practical knowledge and every new finding.
What Can You do Today?
You might have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that won’t give you any comfort for your persistent buzzing or ringing now. Current treatments might not “cure” your tinnitus but they do give real results.
Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus noises, sometimes utilizing noise canceling headphones or cognitive therapies is what modern methods are trying to do. You don’t have to wait for a cure to find relief, you can find help coping with your tinnitus right now. Spending less time worrying about the ringing or buzzing in your ears and more time doing what you love is the reason why you should let us help you find a therapy that works for you. Schedule your appointment today.