Learning to live with tinnitus is often how you manage it. You leave the television on to help you tune the constant ringing out. You avoid going dancing because the loudness of the bar makes your tinnitus worse for days after. You check in with experts constantly to try out new solutions and new strategies. Eventually, your tinnitus simply becomes something you fold into your everyday way of life.
Tinnitus has no cure so you feel powerless. But that may be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology suggests that an reliable and permanent cure for tinnitus could be coming.
Tinnitus normally is experienced as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (though, tinnitus might be experienced as other noises also) that don’t have an objective cause. A condition that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, it’s remarkably common for people to have tinnitus.
It’s also a symptom, broadly speaking, and not a cause unto itself. Put simply, something triggers tinnitus – tinnitus symptoms are the outcome of some underlying concern. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is elusive is that these root causes can be challenging to pin down. Tinnitus symptoms can occur due to quite a few reasons.
True, the majority of people connect tinnitus to hearing loss of some kind, but even that relationship is uncertain. There’s a relationship, sure, but not all people who have tinnitus also have hearing loss (and vice versa).
Inflammation: a New Culprit
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 caused by noise-induced hearing loss. And what she and her team discovered indicates a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Inflammation was found in the brain centers responsible for hearing when scans were done to these mice. These Scans suggest 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 possibility of a new form of therapy. Because handling inflammation is something we know how to do (generally). 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 to Treat Tinnitus?
One day there will most likely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that–rather than counting on these various coping mechanisms, you can just pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus under control.
There are a couple of obstacles but that is certainly the goal:
- We still have to establish whether any new approach is safe; these inflammation blocking medications may have unsafe side effects that still need to be identified.
- Not everyone’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; it’s really difficult to understand (at this point) whether all or even most tinnitus is associated with inflammation of some kind.
- To begin with, these experiments were conducted on mice. And it will be a while before this particular strategy is safe and approved for humans.
So it could be pretty far off before we get a pill for tinnitus. But at least now it’s possible. That should bring anybody who has tinnitus substantial hope. And, obviously, this strategy in managing tinnitus is not the only one presently being researched. That cure gets closer and closer with every bit of practical knowledge and every new discovery.
What Can You do Today?
You could have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that isn’t going to give you any relief for your prolonged buzzing or ringing now. There are modern therapies for tinnitus that can produce real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the underlying issue.
Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus sounds, sometimes employing noise canceling headphones or cognitive techniques is what modern strategies are trying to do. A cure might be several years away, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with tinnitus on your own or unassisted. 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. Set up your appointment right away.