Figuring out how to cope with tinnitus is often how you manage it. You keep the television on to help you tune the constant ringing out. You avoid going dancing because the loud music at the bar causes your tinnitus to get worse for days after. You consult with specialists regularly to try new treatments and new techniques. You simply fold tinnitus into your daily life after a while.
Tinnitus has no cure so you feel powerless. Changes could be coming, however. New research published in PLOS Biology seems to provide hope that we may be getting closer to a permanent and reliable cure for tinnitus.
Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus commonly manifests as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (although, tinnitus might be present as other noises as well) that don’t have a concrete cause. A condition that impacts over 50 million people in the United States alone, it’s incredibly common for people to have tinnitus.
It’s also a symptom, generally speaking, and not a cause unto itself. Put simply, tinnitus is triggered by something else – there’s a root problem that creates tinnitus symptoms. These root causes can be difficult to diagnose and that’s one reason why a cure is evasive. There are various possible reasons for tinnitus symptoms.
It is true, the majority of people connect tinnitus to hearing loss of some kind, but even that link is unclear. There’s a correlation, sure, but not all people who suffer from tinnitus also have hearing loss (and vice versa).
A New Culprit: Inflammation
Dr. Shaowen Bao, who is associate professor of physiology at Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon has recently published a study. Dr. Bao performed experiments on mice who had tinnitus triggered by noise-induced loss of hearing. And a new culprit for tinnitus was revealed by her and her team: inflammation.
Based on the scans and tests carried out on these mice, inflammation was observed around the areas of the brain in control of hearing. These tests reveal that noise-induced hearing loss is producing some unknown injury because inflammation is the body’s response to damage.
But this discovery of inflammation also brings about the possibility of a new form of therapy. Because we know (generally speaking) how to handle inflammation. The tinnitus symptoms went away when the mice were treated for inflammation. Or, at a minimum, those symptoms were no longer observable.
Does This Mean There’s a Pill to Treat Tinnitus?
One day there will likely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if keeping your tinnitus under control was a routine matter of taking your morning medicine and you could escape from all of the coping mechanisms you have to do now.
That’s clearly the goal, but there are several huge hurdles in the way:
- Not everybody’s tinnitus will happen the same way; Whether any particular forms of tinnitus are connected to inflammation is still unclear.
- All new approaches need to be proven safe; these inflammation blocking medications could have dangerous side effects that still need to be identified.
- First off, these experiments were done on mice. This strategy is not yet approved for people and it could be quite some time before that happens.
So, a pill to treat tinnitus could be a long way off. But at least now it’s achievable. That should bring anyone who has tinnitus substantial hope. And other strategies are also being researched. Every new discovery, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a bit closer.
Ca Anything be Done Now?
You might have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that isn’t going to offer you any comfort for your persistent buzzing or ringing right now. There are modern therapies for tinnitus that can deliver real results, even if they don’t really “cure” the underlying issue.
Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus noises, sometimes using noise canceling headphones or cognitive techniques is what modern methods are aiming to do. A cure might be several years off, but that doesn’t mean you should cope with tinnitus by yourself or unaided. Finding a therapy 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.