When you suffer from tinnitus, you learn to cope with 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’re always trying new solutions and techniques with your hearing care expert. Eventually, your tinnitus just becomes something you work into your daily life.
Mostly, that’s because there isn’t any cure for tinnitus. But that might be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology seems to provide promise that we may be getting closer to a permanent and reliable cure for tinnitus.
Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus commonly is experienced as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (though, tinnitus may be experienced as other noises also) that do not have an objective cause. A problem that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is exceptionally common.
It’s also a symptom, in general, and not a cause in and of itself. In other words, something triggers tinnitus – tinnitus symptoms are the result of some root problem. These root causes can be tough to diagnose and that’s one reason why a cure is evasive. Tinnitus symptoms can occur due to numerous reasons.
True, most people connect tinnitus to loss of hearing of some type, but even that link is uncertain. There is some link but there are some people who have tinnitus and don’t have any loss of hearing.
Inflammation: a New Culprit
Dr. Shaowen Bao, who is associate professor of physiology at Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon has recently released research. Dr. Bao did experiments on mice who had tinnitus caused by noise-induced loss of hearing. And what she and her team discovered suggests a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Inflammation was seen around the brain areas responsible for hearing when scans were performed on these mice. These tests reveal that noise-induced hearing loss is contributing to some unknown injury because inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage.
But this discovery of inflammation also leads to the opportunity for a new type of therapy. Because dealing with inflammation is something we know how to do (generally). When the mice were given drugs that inhibited the observed inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus vanished. Or, at a minimum, those symptoms were no longer observable.
So is There a Pill For Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough viewpoint, you can definitely look at this research and see how, one day, there could definitely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that–rather than counting on these various coping elements, you can just pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus under control.
There are a few hurdles but that is certainly the goal:
- There are a number of causes for tinnitus; Which particular types of tinnitus are related to inflammation is still not certain.
- Any new approach needs to be confirmed to be safe; it might take a while to identify precise side effects, complications, or challenges related to these particular medications that block inflammation.
- These experiments were performed first on mice. And there’s a long way to go before this particular method is safe and approved for humans.
So, a pill to treat tinnitus might be pretty far off. But it isn’t impossible. If you suffer from tinnitus today, that signifies a significant boost in hope. And, of course, this approach in dealing with tinnitus is not the only one currently being researched. That cure gets closer with every bit of practical knowledge and every new discovery.
What Can You do Today?
If you have a prolonged buzzing or ringing in your ears today, the promise of a far off pill may provide you with hope – but not necessarily relief. Modern treatments might not “cure” your tinnitus but they do provide 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. A cure may be several years off, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with tinnitus on your own or unaided. Finding a therapy 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 today.