When you suffer from tinnitus, you learn to cope with it. You keep the television on to help you tune the constant ringing out. You skip going dancing because the loud music at the bar causes your tinnitus to get worse for days. You check in with experts constantly to try out new therapies and new strategies. You just work tinnitus into your daily life after a while.
Tinnitus has no cure so you feel powerless. But that may be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology suggests that an effective and permanent cure for tinnitus may be on the horizon.
Causes of Tinnitus
You’re suffering from tinnitus if you hear a ringing or buzzing (or at times other noises) with no objective cause. A condition that impacts over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is very common.
It’s also a symptom, generally speaking, and not a cause in and of itself. In other words, tinnitus is triggered by something else – there’s an underlying issue that brings about tinnitus symptoms. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is evasive is that these root causes can be hard to pin down. There are lots of possible causes for tinnitus symptoms.
Even the link between tinnitus and hearing loss is unclear although the majority of people connect the two. There’s a relationship, certainly, but not all people who have tinnitus also have loss of hearing (and vice versa).
Inflammation: a New Culprit
Dr. Shaowen Bao, who is associate professor of physiology at Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon has recently published research. Dr. Bao performed experiments on mice who had tinnitus triggered by noise-induced loss of hearing. And what she and her team observed suggests a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
According to the tests and scans performed on these mice, inflammation was observed in the parts of the brain in control of listening. These Scans indicate that noise-induced hearing loss is producing some unidentified damage because inflammation is the body’s response to damage.
But a new form of approach is also made available by these discoveries. Because we understand (generally speaking) how to deal with inflammation. The tinnitus symptoms disappear when the mice were treated for inflammation. Or, at least, those symptoms were no longer observable.
So is There a Pill to Treat Tinnitus?
One day there will most likely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that–rather than investing in these various coping mechanisms, you can just take a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus under control.
There are some obstacles but that is certainly the goal:
- Any new approach needs to be proven safe; it may take a while to identify precise side effects, complications, or challenges related to these specific medications that block inflammation.
- Not everyone’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; it’s difficult to know (for now) whether all or even most tinnitus is connected to inflammation of some type.
- These experiments were performed first on mice. This strategy isn’t approved yet for humans and it could be a while before it is.
So it could be pretty far off before we have a pill to treat tinnitus. But it isn’t impossible. If you suffer from tinnitus today, that represents a significant increase in hope. And, clearly, this strategy in treating tinnitus is not the only one presently being studied. Every new discovery, every new bit of understanding, brings that cure for tinnitus just a bit nearer.
Ca Anything be Done Now?
You could have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that won’t give you any comfort for your persistent buzzing or ringing right now. Current treatments might not “cure” your tinnitus but they do give real results.
Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus noises, oftentimes employing noise canceling headphones or cognitive techniques is what modern methods are aiming to do. A cure could be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with tinnitus on your own or unaided. Discovering 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 today.