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 stay away from going dancing. You check in with experts constantly to try out new solutions and new techniques. You just work tinnitus into your everyday life after a while.
For the most part, 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 could be getting closer to a permanent and effective cure for tinnitus.
You’re dealing with tinnitus if you hear a buzzing or ringing (or occasionally other noises) with no apparent cause. A problem that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is exceptionally common.
And it’s not a cause itself but an indication of some other problem. Simply put, tinnitus is triggered by something else – there’s an underlying issue that creates tinnitus symptoms. One reason why a “cure” for tinnitus is evasive is that these underlying causes can be challenging to pin down. Tinnitus symptoms can appear due to numerous reasons.
Even the link between tinnitus and hearing loss is not clear even though most people connect the two. There’s a link, sure, but not all people who have tinnitus also have hearing loss (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 induced by noise-induced hearing loss. And a new culprit for tinnitus was revealed by her and her team: inflammation.
According to the tests and scans performed on these mice, inflammation was seen around the areas of the brain responsible for hearing. As inflammation is the body’s response to damage, this finding does suggest that noise-induced hearing loss may be causing some damage we don’t thoroughly understand yet.
But this finding of inflammation also leads to the possibility of a new form of therapy. Because we understand (generally speaking) how to deal with inflammation. The tinnitus symptoms went away when the mice were treated for inflammation. Or, at a minimum, those symptoms weren’t observable any longer
Does This Mean There’s a Pill for Tinnitus?
One day there will most likely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if keeping your tinnitus at bay was a routine matter of taking your morning medication and you could avoid all of the coping mechanisms you have to do now.
There are a few hurdles but that is certainly the goal:
- We still have to prove if any new strategy is safe; these inflammation blocking medications may have unsafe side effects that still need to be identified.
- Not everyone’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; Whether any specific types of tinnitus are associated with inflammation is still not certain.
- These experiments were first performed on mice. And it will be a while before this particular approach is safe and approved for humans.
So, a pill to treat tinnitus might be pretty far off. But at least it’s now possible. That should bring anyone who has tinnitus substantial hope. And other strategies are also being studied. That cure gets closer and closer with every bit of practical knowledge and every new finding.
What Can You do Today?
You might have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that isn’t going to offer you any comfort for your constant buzzing or ringing now. There are modern therapies for tinnitus that can give real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the underlying problem.
Some strategies include noise-cancellation units or cognitive therapies created to help you ignore the sounds linked to your tinnitus. A cure could be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you should cope with tinnitus on your own or unassisted. Finding 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.