When you have tinnitus, you learn to deal with it. You keep the television on to help you tune out the constant ringing. You skip going dancing because the loudness of the bar causes your tinnitus to get worse for days after. You consult with experts constantly to try new treatments and new techniques. You simply work tinnitus into your everyday life eventually.
For the most part, that’s because there’s no cure for tinnitus. But that may be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology shows that an reliable and permanent cure for tinnitus could be coming soon.
You’re suffering from tinnitus if you hear a buzzing or ringing (or sometimes other sounds) with no apparent cause. A condition that impacts over 50 million people in the United States alone, it’s very common for people to suffer from tinnitus.
And it isn’t a cause itself but a symptom of something else. Put simply, something triggers tinnitus – tinnitus symptoms are the outcome of some underlying concern. These underlying causes can be hard to diagnose and that’s one reason why a cure is challenging. Tinnitus symptoms can manifest due to a number of reasons.
Even the connection between tinnitus and loss of hearing is unclear even though most people link the two. There’s a connection, sure, but not all people who suffer from tinnitus also have hearing loss (and vice versa).
Inflammation: a New Culprit
The new study published in PLOS Biology detailed a study lead by Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor of physiology at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon. Dr. Bao performed experiments on mice who had tinnitus caused by noise-induced hearing loss. And a new culprit for tinnitus was uncovered by her and her team: inflammation.
Inflammation was seen around the brain areas used for hearing when scans were done to these mice. As inflammation is the body’s reaction to injury, this finding does indicate that noise-induced hearing loss might be creating some damage we don’t completely understand yet.
But this finding of inflammation also leads to the possibility of a new kind of treatment. Because dealing with inflammation is something we understand how to do (generally). The tinnitus symptoms disappear 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 For Tinnitus?
One day there will likely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that–instead of counting on these various coping mechanisms, you can just pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus under control.
There are a few hurdles but that is certainly the goal:
- Any new approach needs to be confirmed to be safe; these inflammation blocking medications might have harmful side effects that still need to be identified.
- First, these experiments were done on mice. And there’s a long way to go before this particular method is safe and approved for humans.
- Not everyone’s tinnitus will happen the same way; it’s really difficult to understand (for now) whether all or even most tinnitus is associated with inflammation of some kind.
So it could be pretty far off before we get a pill to treat tinnitus. But at least it’s now feasible. That should offer anyone who has tinnitus substantial hope. And, of course, this approach in dealing with tinnitus is not the only one currently being studied. That cure gets closer with every bit of practical knowledge and every new finding.
Ca Anything be Done Now?
If you have a prolonged buzzing or ringing in your ears now, the potential of a far off pill might give you hope – but probably not relief. There are current treatments for tinnitus that can give real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the underlying issue.
Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus noises, sometimes employing noise canceling headphones or cognitive techniques is what modern techniques are aiming to do. A cure may be several years away, but that doesn’t mean you should deal with tinnitus alone or unaided. Discovering a treatment that works can help you spend more time doing what you enjoy, and less time thinking about that buzzing or ringing in your ears. Make your appointment right away.