When you suffer from tinnitus, you learn to live with it. To help tune it out you leave the television on. And loud music at bars is making your tinnitus worse so you stay away from going dancing. You’re constantly trying new treatments and strategies with your specialist. You just fold tinnitus into your daily life eventually.
Tinnitus doesn’t have a cure so you feel helpless. But that could be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology seems to offer promise that we might be getting closer to a permanent and effective cure for tinnitus.
Tinnitus commonly is experienced as a ringing or buzzing in the ear (though, tinnitus could be experienced as other noises as well) that don’t have a concrete cause. A condition that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is remarkably common.
It’s also a symptom, broadly speaking, and not a cause in and of itself. In other words, tinnitus is triggered by something else – there’s an underlying issue that creates tinnitus symptoms. These underlying causes can be difficult to diagnose and that’s one reason why a cure is challenging. There are numerous possible causes for tinnitus symptoms.
True, the majority of people attribute tinnitus to loss of hearing of some kind, but even that connection is not clear. There’s a connection, certainly, but not all people who have tinnitus also have loss of hearing (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 released research. Dr. Bao did experiments on mice who had tinnitus caused by noise-induced loss of hearing. And a new culprit for tinnitus was revealed by her and her team: inflammation.
Inflammation was seen around the brain areas used for hearing when scans were performed on these mice. As inflammation is the body’s response to injury, this finding does suggest that noise-induced loss of hearing might be creating some harm we don’t fully understand yet.
But a new kind of approach is also made available by these findings. Because we understand (generally speaking) how to handle inflammation. The tinnitus symptoms went away when the mice were treated for inflammation. Or, at least, those symptoms weren’t observable any longer
So is There a Pill For Tinnitus?
If you take a patient enough viewpoint, you can probably look at this research and see how, one day, there may easily be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if keeping your tinnitus at bay was a routine matter of taking your morning medicine and you could escape from all of the coping mechanisms you have to do now.
There are some obstacles but that is certainly the goal:
- Not everyone’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; it’s difficult to understand (at this point) whether all or even most tinnitus is connected to inflammation of some kind.
- First, these experiments were done on mice. And there’s a long way to go before this particular approach is safe and approved for humans.
- We still need to establish whether any new method is safe; it might take some time to identify specific side effects, complications, or issues related to these particular medications that block inflammation.
So it could be pretty far off before we get a pill for tinnitus. But it’s no longer impossible. If you have tinnitus now, that represents a significant boost in hope. And other techniques are also being studied. That cure gets closer and closer with every bit of knowledge and every new finding.
Ca Anything be Done Now?
If you have a persistent buzzing or ringing in your ears today, the potential of a far off pill may give you hope – but not necessarily relief. There are modern therapies for tinnitus that can produce real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the root problem.
Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus sounds, sometimes utilizing noise canceling headphones or cognitive therapies is what modern strategies are aiming to do. A cure might be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with tinnitus by yourself or unaided. Finding 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. Contact us for a consultation now.