Figuring out how to cope with tinnitus is often how you manage it. To help tune it out you leave the television on. You avoid going dancing because the loud music at the bar makes your tinnitus worse for days. You’re constantly trying new therapies and strategies with your specialist. You just work tinnitus into your everyday life eventually.
Mostly, that’s because there’s no cure for tinnitus. But that could be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology seems to offer hope that we might be getting closer to a permanent and effective cure for tinnitus.
Tinnitus commonly manifests as a ringing or buzzing in the ear (although, tinnitus could be experienced as other noises also) that do not have a concrete cause. A condition that impacts over 50 million people in the United States alone, it’s incredibly common for people to suffer from tinnitus.
It’s also a symptom, broadly speaking, and not a cause in and of itself. Put simply, something causes tinnitus – there’s an underlying issue that brings about tinnitus symptoms. These underlying causes can be tough to diagnose and that’s one reason why a cure is challenging. There are lots of possible reasons for tinnitus symptoms.
It is true, most people attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some kind, but even that link is not clear. There is some relationship but some people have tinnitus and don’t have any hearing loss.
Inflammation: a New Culprit
The new research published in PLOS Biology highlighted a study performed 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 induced by noise-induced hearing loss. And what she and her team discovered indicates a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Inflammation was seen around the brain areas responsible for hearing when scans were performed on these mice. These Scans suggest that noise-induced hearing loss is contributing to some unknown damage because inflammation is the body’s response to damage.
But a new form of treatment is also opened up by these results. Because we know (generally speaking) how to deal with 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?
If you take a patient enough view, you can definitely look at this study and see how, one day, there could easily be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if keeping your tinnitus at bay was a routine matter of taking your morning medicine and you could avoid all of the coping mechanisms you have to do now.
That’s certainly the goal, but there are different substantial hurdles in the way:
- Not everyone’s tinnitus will happen the same way; it’s really difficult to understand (for now) whether all or even most tinnitus is related to inflammation of some type.
- Any new approach needs to be proven safe; it could take some time to determine precise side effects, complications, or issues related to these particular inflammation-blocking medications.
- These experiments were first performed on mice. This method isn’t approved yet for humans and it may be some time before it is.
So it could be a long way off before we get a pill to treat tinnitus. But it isn’t impossible. That should give anyone who has tinnitus considerable hope. And, of course, this strategy in managing tinnitus is not the only one presently being researched. That cure gets 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 won’t give you any comfort for your persistent buzzing or ringing right now. There are current treatments for tinnitus that can give real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the underlying issue.
Some techniques include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies designed to help you dismiss the sounds linked to your tinnitus. You don’t have to wait for a cure to get relief, you can get help dealing with your tinnitus now. Discovering a treatment 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 today.