Figuring out how to cope with tinnitus is often how you manage it. To help tune it out you leave the television on. You skip going dancing because the loudness of the bar makes your tinnitus worse for days. You’re always trying new solutions and techniques with your specialist. Eventually, your tinnitus simply becomes something you fold into your daily life.
Tinnitus has no cure so you feel powerless. Changes may be coming, however. New research published in PLOS Biology suggests that an reliable and permanent cure for tinnitus could be on the horizon.
Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus commonly manifests as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (although, tinnitus could be present as other sounds too) that don’t have a concrete cause. A condition that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is remarkably common.
It’s also a symptom, generally speaking, and not a cause unto itself. Simply put, something triggers tinnitus – there’s a root problem that creates tinnitus symptoms. These root causes can be difficult to diagnose and that’s one reason why a cure is evasive. There are lots of possible causes for tinnitus symptoms.
True, the majority of people attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some kind, but even that connection is unclear. There’s a relationship, sure, but not all people who have tinnitus also have loss of hearing (and vice versa).
A New Culprit: Inflammation
The new research published in PLOS Biology detailed a study performed by Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor of physiology at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon. Mice that had tinnitus brought about by noise induced loss of hearing were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And a new culprit for tinnitus was discovered by her and her team: inflammation.
Based on the scans and tests carried out on these mice, inflammation was observed across the parts of the brain responsible for listening. As inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage, this finding does suggest that noise-induced loss of hearing may be creating some damage we don’t thoroughly understand yet.
But a new type of approach is also made possible by these results. Because we understand (generally speaking) how to deal with inflammation. When the mice were given drugs that impeded the detected inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus vanished. Or at the very least there were no longer observable symptoms of tinnitus.
So is There a Pill to Treat Tinnitus?
One day there will likely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that–rather than counting on these various coping mechanisms, you can just pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
That’s definitely the goal, but there are numerous significant hurdles in the way:
- We still have to establish whether any new strategy is safe; it may take a while to identify specific side effects, concerns, or issues related to these specific medications that block inflammation.
- Not everybody’s tinnitus will happen the same way; it’s difficult to understand (for now) whether all or even most tinnitus is connected to inflammation of some kind.
- To begin with, these experiments were done on mice. This strategy isn’t approved yet for people and it may be some time before it is.
So, a pill to treat tinnitus might be a long way off. But at least now it’s feasible. That should bring anybody who has tinnitus considerable hope. And other solutions are also being researched. Every new finding, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a bit nearer.
What Can You do Today?
You might have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that isn’t going to give you any relief for your prolonged buzzing or ringing right now. Current treatments might not “cure” your tinnitus but they do produce real results.
Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus sounds, oftentimes utilizing noise canceling headphones or cognitive therapies is what modern methods are trying to do. A cure could be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you have to cope with tinnitus by yourself or unaided. Discovering a treatment that works can help you spend more time doing what you enjoy, and less time thinking about that buzzing or ringing in your ears. Schedule your appointment right away.