Figuring out how to cope with tinnitus is often how you manage it. You keep the television on to help you tune out the constant ringing. And loud music at bars is causing your hearing loss to get worse so you avoid going dancing. You’re always trying new therapies and strategies with your specialist. Eventually, your tinnitus just becomes something you work into your daily life.
Tinnitus doesn’t have a cure so you feel helpless. But that could be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology seems to give hope that we could be getting closer to a permanent and effective cure for tinnitus.
Tinnitus usually is experienced as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (although, tinnitus could be experienced as other noises also) that do not have a concrete cause. A problem that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, it’s incredibly common for people to suffer from tinnitus.
And it’s not a cause itself but a symptom of some other problem. Simply put, tinnitus is triggered by something else – there’s a root problem that creates tinnitus symptoms. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is elusive is that these underlying causes can be challenging to pin down. Tinnitus symptoms can appear due to numerous reasons.
True, most people attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some kind, but even that relationship is not clear. There is some link but some people have tinnitus and don’t have any loss of hearing.
A New Culprit: Inflammation
Dr. Shaowen Bao, who is associate professor of physiology at Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon has recently released research. Dr. Bao performed experiments on mice who had tinnitus induced by noise-induced hearing loss. And what she and her team discovered implies a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Inflammation was seen in the brain areas responsible for hearing when scans were done to these mice. These tests indicate that noise-induced hearing loss is contributing to some unknown injury because inflammation is the body’s response to damage.
But this finding of inflammation also brings about the opportunity for a new form of therapy. Because we understand (generally speaking) how to handle inflammation. When the mice were given medication that inhibited the observed inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus disappeared. Or at the very least there were no longer observable symptoms of tinnitus.
Does This Mean There’s a Pill for Tinnitus?
One day there will likely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that–instead of counting on these various coping mechanisms, you can just take a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus under control.
There are a few hurdles but that is certainly the goal:
- All new approaches need to be confirmed to be safe; these inflammation blocking medications might have harmful side effects that could take some time to identify.
- First, these experiments were conducted on mice. And there’s a long way to go before this particular approach is safe and authorized for use on people.
- There are various causes for tinnitus; Which particular types of tinnitus are associated with inflammation is still unclear.
So it could be pretty far off before we get a pill for tinnitus. But at least it’s now possible. If you have tinnitus now, that signifies a substantial increase in hope. And, of course, this strategy in dealing with tinnitus is not the only one currently being researched. Every new discovery, every new bit of understanding, brings that cure for tinnitus a little bit nearer.
What Can You do Today?
You might have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that won’t offer you any comfort for your constant buzzing or ringing right now. There are current therapies for tinnitus that can give real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the underlying issue.
Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus sounds, oftentimes utilizing noise canceling headphones or cognitive techniques is what modern methods are aiming to do. You don’t have to wait for a cure to find relief, you can find help coping with your tinnitus right now. 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. Get in touch with us for a consultation right away.