Learning to live with tinnitus is often how you manage it. You leave the television on to help you tune out the constant ringing. And loud music at bars is making your tinnitus worse so you stay away from going dancing. You’re regularly trying new solutions and strategies with your hearing care expert. You just fold tinnitus into your daily life after a while.
For the most part, that’s because there isn’t any cure for tinnitus. Changes could be coming, however. New research published in PLOS Biology seems to provide promise that we could be getting closer to a permanent and reliable cure for tinnitus.
Tinnitus usually manifests as a ringing or buzzing in the ear (though, tinnitus might be present as other sounds also) that don’t have a concrete cause. A problem that impacts over 50 million people in the United States alone, it’s incredibly common for people to have tinnitus.
And it’s not a cause itself but a symptom of something else. Put simply, tinnitus is triggered 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 difficult to narrow down. Tinnitus symptoms can appear due to numerous reasons.
Even the relationship between tinnitus and loss of hearing is not clear even though most people link the two. There is some relationship 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 research. Mice that had tinnitus triggered by noise induced hearing loss were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And what she and her team found out suggests a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Inflammation was seen in the brain centers 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 reaction to damage.
But this discovery of inflammation also leads to the opportunity for a new type of treatment. Because dealing with inflammation is something we understand how to do (generally). 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 to Treat Tinnitus?
One day there will likely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that–rather than investing in these various coping mechanisms, you can just pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus under control.
There are a few obstacles but that is certainly the goal:
- These experiments were performed first on mice. And it will be a while before this particular strategy is safe and authorized for use on people.
- Not everyone’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; it’s difficult to understand (for now) whether all or even most tinnitus is connected to inflammation of some type.
- We still have to establish whether any new strategy is safe; these inflammation blocking medications could have harmful side effects that could take some time to identify.
So, a pill to treat tinnitus could be a long way off. But it isn’t impossible. That should bring anybody who has tinnitus considerable hope. And, obviously, this strategy in managing tinnitus is not the only one presently being studied. That cure gets closer with every bit of knowledge and every new discovery.
Ca Anything be Done Now?
If you have a prolonged ringing or buzzing in your ears now, the promise of a far off pill could give you hope – but not necessarily relief. 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 therapies is what modern strategies are trying to do. You don’t have to wait for a cure to get relief, you can find help dealing with your tinnitus right now. Finding a therapy that works can help you spend more time doing what you enjoy, and less time thinking about that buzzing or ringing in your ears. Set up your appointment right away.