Figuring out how to live with tinnitus is often how you manage it. You leave the television on to help you tune the constant ringing out. You skip going dancing because the loudness of the bar causes your tinnitus to get worse for days. You’re regularly trying new therapies and techniques with your hearing care expert. You just fold tinnitus into your everyday life eventually.
Tinnitus has no cure so you feel powerless. But that might be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology seems to offer hope that we could be getting closer to a permanent and effective cure for tinnitus.
Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus usually manifests as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (though, tinnitus may 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 unto itself. Put simply, tinnitus is triggered by something else – tinnitus symptoms are the outcome of some underlying concern. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is evasive is that these underlying causes can be hard to narrow down. Tinnitus symptoms can manifest due to quite a few reasons.
True, the majority of people attribute tinnitus to loss of hearing of some type, but even that connection is unclear. There’s a link, certainly, but not all people who suffer from 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 a study. Dr. Bao performed experiments on mice who had tinnitus induced by noise-induced loss of hearing. And what she and her team found out suggests a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
According to the scans and tests performed on these mice, inflammation was found across the parts of the brain responsible for hearing. As inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage, this finding does suggest that noise-induced hearing loss might be creating some damage we don’t completely understand yet.
But this finding of inflammation also brings about the opportunity for a new form of treatment. Because we know (generally speaking) how to handle inflammation. 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.
Does This Mean There’s a Pill to Treat Tinnitus?
One day there will likely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that–instead of investing in these various coping mechanisms, you can just pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus under control.
That’s certainly the goal, but there are various huge obstacles in the way:
- There are a number of causes for tinnitus; Which particular types of tinnitus are associated with inflammation is still unclear.
- We still need to prove if any new method is safe; these inflammation blocking medications may have dangerous side effects that could take some time to identify.
- First, these experiments were performed on mice. And there’s a long way to go before this particular strategy is safe and approved for humans.
So it could be a long way off before we have a pill to treat tinnitus. But at least now it’s possible. If you suffer from tinnitus today, that signifies a substantial increase in hope. And, clearly, this approach in managing tinnitus is not the only one presently being researched. Every new discovery, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a little bit nearer.
Ca Anything be Done Now?
You could have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that won’t offer you any relief for your prolonged buzzing or ringing now. Modern treatments may not “cure” your tinnitus but they do offer real results.
Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus sounds, sometimes utilizing noise canceling headphones or cognitive techniques is what modern methods are trying to do. A cure could be several years away, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with tinnitus alone or unaided. Discovering 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. Contact us for a consultation now.