When you suffer from tinnitus, you learn to live with it. You keep 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. You check in with specialists constantly to try new solutions and new techniques. Eventually, your tinnitus simply becomes something you work into your everyday life.
Tinnitus doesn’t have a cure so you feel helpless. But that might be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology seems to offer hope that we may be getting closer to a permanent and effective cure for tinnitus.
Causes of Tinnitus
You’re suffering from tinnitus if you hear a buzzing or ringing (or in some cases other noises) with no apparent cause. A problem that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, it’s incredibly common for people to have tinnitus.
It’s also a symptom, generally speaking, and not a cause in and of itself. In other words, something causes tinnitus – tinnitus symptoms are the result of some underlying problem. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is evasive is that these underlying causes can be challenging to pin down. There are numerous possible causes for tinnitus symptoms.
True, most people attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some type, but even that connection is unclear. There’s a relationship, sure, but not all people who suffer from tinnitus also have loss of hearing (and vice versa).
A New Culprit: Inflammation
The new study published in PLOS Biology outlined a study performed by Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor of physiology at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon. Mice that had tinnitus triggered by noise induced hearing loss were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And what she and her team observed implies a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Inflammation was found in the brain centers responsible for hearing when scans were performed on these mice. As inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage, this finding does indicate that noise-induced loss of hearing may be creating some harm we don’t thoroughly understand yet.
But this discovery of inflammation also brings about the possibility of a new kind of treatment. Because we understand (generally speaking) how to deal with inflammation. When the mice were given drugs that inhibited the detected inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus disappeared. Or at the very least there were no longer observable symptoms of tinnitus.
Does This Mean There’s a Pill for Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough viewpoint, you can probably look at this research 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 some obstacles but that is certainly the goal:
- All new approaches need to be proven safe; these inflammation blocking medications could have unsafe side effects that still need to be identified.
- To begin with, these experiments were performed on mice. This approach isn’t approved yet for people and it might be some time before it is.
- There are many causes for tinnitus; it’s hard to know (for now) whether all or even most tinnitus is related to inflammation of some type.
So, a pill to treat tinnitus may be pretty far off. But it isn’t impossible. That should give anyone who has tinnitus considerable hope. And other solutions are also being studied. Every new discovery, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a little bit closer.
What Can You do Today?
You could have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that won’t offer you any comfort for your chronic buzzing or ringing right now. Modern treatments might not “cure” your tinnitus but they do produce real results.
Some strategies include noise-cancellation units or cognitive therapies designed to help you brush aside the noises connected to your tinnitus. A cure could be several years away, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with tinnitus by yourself or unaided. Finding 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. Set up your appointment today.