Learning to live with tinnitus is often how you manage it. You keep the television on to help you tune out the constant ringing. You avoid going dancing because the loud music at the bar makes your tinnitus worse for days. You’re regularly trying new therapies and techniques with your hearing care expert. Eventually, your tinnitus just becomes something you fold into your everyday life.
Tinnitus doesn’t have a cure so you feel helpless. But that may be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology shows that an effective and permanent cure for tinnitus might be coming soon.
You’re experiencing tinnitus if you hear a buzzing or ringing (or occasionally other sounds) with no apparent cause. A condition that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, it’s incredibly common for people to suffer from tinnitus.
It’s also a symptom, generally speaking, and not a cause unto itself. In other words, something triggers tinnitus – tinnitus symptoms are the outcome of some root problem. One reason why a “cure” for tinnitus is evasive is that these root causes can be hard to pin down. There are many possible reasons for tinnitus symptoms.
True, the majority of people connect tinnitus to hearing loss of some kind, but even that link is uncertain. 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
The new study published in PLOS Biology outlined 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 loss of hearing were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And a new culprit for tinnitus was revealed by her and her team: inflammation.
Inflammation was seen around the brain areas 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 loss of hearing might be causing some damage we don’t thoroughly understand yet.
But this discovery of inflammation also brings about the opportunity for a new form of treatment. Because we know (generally speaking) how to deal with inflammation. When the mice were given drugs that inhibited the observed inflammation reaction, the symptoms of tinnitus vanished. Or at the very least there were no longer observable symptoms of tinnitus.
So is There a Pill For Tinnitus?
If you take a patient enough viewpoint, you can probably look at this study and see how, one day, there may easily be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if keeping your tinnitus at bay was a simple matter of taking your morning medication and you could avoid all of the coping mechanisms you need to do now.
There are a few hurdles but that is certainly the goal:
- These experiments were performed first on mice. This approach is not yet approved for humans and it may be a while before that happens.
- There are various causes for tinnitus; it’s hard to understand (at this point) whether all or even most tinnitus is related to inflammation of some type.
- Any new approach needs to be confirmed to be safe; these inflammation blocking medications may have harmful side effects that could take some time to identify.
So, a pill to treat tinnitus might be a long way off. But it’s no longer impossible. That should offer anybody who has tinnitus considerable hope. And other approaches are also being studied. Every new finding, every new bit of understanding, brings that cure for tinnitus a little bit nearer.
What Can You do Today?
If you have a chronic ringing or buzzing in your ears now, the potential of a far off pill could provide you with hope – but probably not relief. There are modern therapies for tinnitus that can produce real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the root issue.
Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus noises, sometimes utilizing noise canceling headphones or cognitive techniques is what modern methods are striving to do. A cure may be a number of years away, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with tinnitus by yourself 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. Make your appointment today.