When you have tinnitus, you learn to cope with it. To help tune it out you leave the television on. And loud music at bars is causing your hearing loss to get worse so you avoid going dancing. You’re regularly trying new therapies and techniques with your specialist. Eventually, your tinnitus just becomes something you work into your daily way of life.
Tinnitus doesn’t have a cure so you feel helpless. But that might be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology shows that an reliable and permanent cure for tinnitus may be coming.
You’re suffering from tinnitus if you hear a ringing or buzzing (or in some cases other noises) with no apparent cause. A condition that impacts over 50 million people in the United States alone, it’s remarkably common for people to have tinnitus.
And it’s not a cause itself but an indication of something else. In other words, something causes tinnitus – there’s a root problem that creates tinnitus symptoms. One reason why a “cure” for tinnitus is elusive is that these underlying causes can be challenging to pin down. Tinnitus symptoms can manifest due to a number of reasons.
True, the majority of people connect tinnitus to loss of hearing of some kind, but even that link is unclear. There’s a link, certainly, but not all people who have tinnitus also have loss of hearing (and vice versa).
A New Culprit: Inflammation
The new research 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. Dr. Bao did experiments on mice who had tinnitus triggered by noise-induced hearing loss. And a new culprit for tinnitus was revealed by her and her team: inflammation.
Inflammation was found in the brain areas used for hearing when scans were done to these mice. As inflammation is the body’s response to damage, this finding does indicate that noise-induced loss of hearing might be creating some harm we don’t fully understand yet.
But this finding of inflammation also leads to the opportunity for a new type of treatment. Because we know (generally speaking) how to deal with inflammation. The tinnitus symptoms disappear when the mice were treated for inflammation. Or, at least, those symptoms weren’t observable any longer
Does This Mean There’s a Pill to Treat Tinnitus?
One day there will probably be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that–instead of investing in these various coping elements, you can just take a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
There are a couple of hurdles but that is certainly the goal:
- Not everyone’s tinnitus will happen the same way; it’s really difficult to understand (for now) whether all or even most tinnitus is associated with inflammation of some type.
- Any new approach needs to be proven safe; these inflammation blocking medications might have harmful side effects that still need to be identified.
- To start with, these experiments were performed on mice. And it will be a while before this particular approach is safe and approved for humans.
So, a pill for tinnitus could be a long way off. But at least now it’s feasible. If you have tinnitus today, that means a tremendous increase in hope. And, clearly, this approach in treating tinnitus is not the only one presently being researched. Every new discovery, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a bit nearer.
What Can You do Today?
You might have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that won’t give you any comfort for your persistent buzzing or ringing right now. Modern treatments might not “cure” your tinnitus but they do give real results.
Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus noises, oftentimes utilizing noise canceling headphones or cognitive therapies is what modern methods are striving to do. A cure might be several years off, but that doesn’t mean you should deal with tinnitus on your own or unassisted. 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. Set up your appointment right away.