Learning to cope 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 loudness of the bar makes your tinnitus worse for days. You’re always trying new therapies and techniques with your specialist. Eventually, your tinnitus just becomes something you work into your everyday way of life.
Tinnitus has no cure so you feel powerless. But that could 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.
Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus normally manifests as a ringing or buzzing in the ear (though, tinnitus might be experienced as other sounds as well) that don’t have a concrete cause. A condition that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is very common.
It’s also a symptom, generally speaking, and not a cause unto itself. Simply put, tinnitus is caused by something else – tinnitus symptoms are the outcome of some root concern. One reason why a “cure” for tinnitus is elusive is that these underlying causes can be challenging to pin down. There are many possible reasons for tinnitus symptoms.
True, most people connect tinnitus to hearing loss of some kind, but even that relationship is not clear. There’s a correlation, sure, but not all people who suffer from 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 a study. Dr. Bao did experiments on mice who had tinnitus induced by noise-induced loss of hearing. And a new culprit for tinnitus was revealed by her and her team: inflammation.
Inflammation was seen in the brain areas used for hearing when scans were done to these mice. As inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage, this finding does suggest that noise-induced hearing loss might be creating some damage we don’t completely understand yet.
But a new type of approach is also opened up by these discoveries. Because we know (generally speaking) how to deal with inflammation. When the mice were given medication that impeded the detected inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus disappeared. 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 definitely look at this study and see how, one day, there could definitely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that–instead of counting on these various coping elements, you can just pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus under control.
There are some hurdles but that is certainly the goal:
- First off, these experiments were conducted on mice. This approach isn’t yet approved for humans and it may be a while before it is.
- Any new approach needs to be proven safe; it may take a while to determine specific side effects, complications, or problems related to these particular inflammation-blocking medications.
- Not everyone’s tinnitus will happen the same way; it’s difficult to understand (for now) whether all or even most tinnitus is related to inflammation of some type.
So it could be a long way off before we get a pill for tinnitus. But at least it’s now achievable. If you have tinnitus now, that means a tremendous increase in hope. And, clearly, this approach in managing tinnitus is not the only one currently being researched. Every new finding, every new bit of understanding, brings that cure for tinnitus just a bit nearer.
What Can You do Today?
You may have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that isn’t going to give you any relief for your chronic buzzing or ringing now. Modern treatments may not “cure” your tinnitus but they do produce real results.
Some techniques include noise-cancellation units or cognitive therapies designed to help you brush aside the noises related to your tinnitus. A cure may be a number of years away, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with tinnitus on your own or unaided. Spending less time stressing about the ringing or buzzing in your ears and more time doing what you love is the reason why you need to let us help you find a therapy that works for you. Schedule your appointment right away.