When you have tinnitus, you learn to live with it. To help tune it out you keep the television on. And loud music at bars is causing your hearing loss to get worse so you avoid going dancing. You’re constantly trying new treatments and strategies with your specialist. You simply work tinnitus into your daily life after a while.
Tinnitus has no cure so you feel helpless. Changes may be coming, however. 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 usually manifests as a ringing or buzzing in the ear (although, tinnitus could be present as other noises also) that do not have an objective cause. A problem that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is very common.
It’s also a symptom, broadly speaking, and not a cause unto itself. In other words, tinnitus is caused by something else – there’s an underlying issue that creates tinnitus symptoms. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is challenging is that these root causes can be challenging to narrow down. Tinnitus symptoms can appear due to numerous reasons.
Even the interaction between tinnitus and hearing loss is not clear although the majority of people link the two. There is some link but there are some people who 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 published a study. Dr. Bao did experiments on mice who had tinnitus triggered by noise-induced hearing loss. And what she and her team found out suggests a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Based on the tests and scans performed on these mice, inflammation was seen across the parts of the brain in control of listening. These Scans indicate that noise-induced hearing loss is contributing to some unknown injury because inflammation is the body’s response to damage.
But a new kind of treatment is also opened up by these results. Because handling inflammation is something we know how to do (in general). The tinnitus symptoms went away when the mice were treated for inflammation. Or at the very least there were no longer observable symptoms of tinnitus.
So is There a Pill For Tinnitus?
One day there will likely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that–instead of investing in these various coping elements, you can just pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
There are a couple of obstacles but that is certainly the goal:
- These experiments were first performed on mice. This approach is not approved yet for humans and it could be a while before that happens.
- We still have to establish whether any new method is safe; it could take some time to determine precise side effects, complications, or challenges related to these particular inflammation-blocking medications.
- There are many causes for tinnitus; Which specific types of tinnitus are related to inflammation is still not certain.
So, a pill for tinnitus may be a long way off. But it isn’t impossible. If you suffer from tinnitus today, that represents a substantial boost in hope. And other techniques are also being researched. Every new discovery, every new bit of understanding, brings that cure for tinnitus a little bit closer.
Ca Anything be Done Now?
You could have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that isn’t going to offer you any relief for your chronic buzzing or ringing right now. There are current therapies for tinnitus that can give real results, even if they don’t really “cure” the underlying problem.
Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus noises, oftentimes utilizing noise canceling headphones or cognitive techniques is what modern strategies are striving to do. A cure may be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you have to cope with tinnitus alone or unassisted. Finding a treatment that works can help you spend more time doing what you enjoy, and less time thinking about that buzzing or ringing in your ears. Schedule your appointment today.