Figuring out how to live with tinnitus is often how you manage it. To help tune it out you keep the television on. You skip going dancing because the loudness of the bar makes your tinnitus worse for days. You’re regularly trying new treatments and strategies with your hearing care expert. You simply fold tinnitus into your everyday life eventually.
Tinnitus has no cure so you feel powerless. Changes might be coming, however. New research published in PLOS Biology seems to offer promise that we might be getting closer to a permanent and reliable cure for tinnitus.
You’re suffering from tinnitus if you hear a ringing or buzzing (or sometimes other noises) with no apparent cause. A condition that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is incredibly common.
And it’s not a cause itself but an indication of some other problem. Put simply, tinnitus is triggered by something else – tinnitus symptoms are the outcome of some root concern. These underlying causes can be hard to diagnose and that’s one reason why a cure is evasive. There are numerous possible causes for tinnitus symptoms.
Even the connection between tinnitus and hearing loss is unclear even though most people link the two. There’s a correlation, certainly, but not all people who have tinnitus also have hearing loss (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 published research. Mice that had tinnitus caused by noise induced hearing loss were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And what she and her team observed indicates a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
According to the scans and tests carried out on these mice, inflammation was seen across the parts of the brain responsible for hearing. These tests suggest that noise-induced hearing loss is causing some unknown damage because inflammation is the body’s response to damage.
But a new kind of treatment is also made possible by these findings. Because we know (generally speaking) how to handle inflammation. When the mice were given drugs that impeded the detected inflammation reaction, the symptoms of tinnitus disappeared. Or, at a minimum, those symptoms weren’t observable any longer
Does This Mean There’s a Pill to Treat Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough view, you can probably look at this study and see how, one day, there could definitely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if keeping your tinnitus at bay was a simple matter of taking your morning medication and you could avoid all of the coping mechanisms you have to do now.
There are a couple of hurdles but that is certainly the goal:
- First off, these experiments were done on mice. This strategy is not approved yet for people and it may be a while before that happens.
- All new approaches need to be confirmed to be safe; it may take a while to determine specific side effects, concerns, or challenges related to these particular inflammation-blocking medications.
- Not everyone’s tinnitus will happen the same way; Whether any specific forms of tinnitus are associated with inflammation is still not certain.
So, a pill to treat tinnitus may be pretty far off. But it isn’t impossible. That should offer anyone who has tinnitus considerable hope. And, clearly, this strategy in managing tinnitus is not the only one presently being researched. Every new finding, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a bit closer.
What Can You do Today?
You may have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that isn’t going to offer you any comfort for your prolonged buzzing or ringing now. Current treatments may not “cure” your tinnitus but they do give real results.
Some methods include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies created to help you dismiss the sounds connected to your tinnitus. You don’t have to wait for a cure to get relief, you can get help dealing with your tinnitus now. 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. Get in touch with us for a consultation today.