Figuring out how to live with tinnitus is often how you manage it. You keep the television on to help you tune the constant ringing out. And loud music at bars is causing your hearing loss to get worse so you stay away from going dancing. You consult with experts constantly to try out new solutions and new strategies. You just fold tinnitus into your daily life eventually.
For the most part, that’s because there’s no cure for tinnitus. But that might be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology indicates that an reliable and permanent cure for tinnitus may be on the horizon.
Tinnitus usually manifests as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (although, tinnitus may be present as other sounds as well) that do not have an objective cause. A problem that impacts over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is remarkably common.
And it isn’t a cause itself but a symptom of something else. In other words, tinnitus is caused by something else – there’s an underlying issue that creates tinnitus symptoms. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is evasive is that these root causes can be difficult to pin down. There are lots of possible causes for tinnitus symptoms.
Even the association between tinnitus and hearing loss is uncertain though most people link the two. There’s a correlation, certainly, but not all people who suffer from 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. Dr. Bao performed experiments on mice who had tinnitus induced by noise-induced loss of hearing. And what she and her team observed indicates a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Inflammation was found in the brain areas used for hearing when scans were done to these mice. As inflammation is the body’s response to damage, this finding does suggest that noise-induced loss of hearing might be causing some harm we don’t thoroughly understand yet.
But this discovery of inflammation also brings about the possibility of 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 the very least there were no longer observable symptoms of tinnitus.
So is There a Pill to Treat Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough viewpoint, you can probably look at this research and see how, one day, there may definitely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that–instead of investing in these various coping elements, you can just take a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
That’s definitely the goal, but there are many big obstacles in the way:
- There are many causes for tinnitus; it’s hard to understand (at this point) whether all or even most tinnitus is connected to inflammation of some type.
- We still need to establish whether any new approach is safe; it may take a while to identify specific side effects, complications, or challenges related to these particular medications that block inflammation.
- These experiments were performed first on mice. This strategy isn’t yet approved for humans and it might be a while before it is.
So, a pill to treat tinnitus could be a long way off. But it’s no longer impossible. That should bring anyone who has tinnitus considerable hope. And other strategies are also being researched. Every new discovery, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a bit nearer.
What Can You do Today?
If you have a chronic ringing or buzzing in your ears now, the promise of a far off pill could give you hope – but not necessarily relief. Current treatments might not “cure” your tinnitus but they do give real results.
Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus sounds, sometimes utilizing noise canceling headphones or cognitive therapies is what modern techniques are striving to do. A cure may be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you should cope with tinnitus on your own or unassisted. Finding 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. Contact us for a consultation now.