When you have tinnitus, you learn to deal 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 after. You check in with specialists frequently to try out new therapies and new strategies. Eventually, your tinnitus simply becomes something you work into your everyday way of life.
Tinnitus has no cure so you feel helpless. But that might be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology seems to provide hope that we may be getting closer to a permanent and effective cure for tinnitus.
Tinnitus normally manifests as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (though, tinnitus might be experienced as other sounds also) that do not have a concrete cause. A problem that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, it’s incredibly common for people to suffer from tinnitus.
It’s also a symptom, generally speaking, and not a cause unto itself. Simply put, something causes tinnitus – there’s a root problem that brings about tinnitus symptoms. These root causes can be tough to diagnose and that’s one reason why a cure is challenging. Tinnitus symptoms can occur due to a number of reasons.
True, the majority of people attribute tinnitus to loss of hearing of some kind, but even that link is not clear. There is some relationship but there are some people who have tinnitus and don’t have any loss of hearing.
A New Culprit: Inflammation
Dr. Shaowen Bao, who is associate professor of physiology at Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon has recently released research. Mice that had tinnitus brought about by noise induced hearing loss were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And a new culprit for tinnitus was discovered by her and her team: inflammation.
Inflammation was found around the brain areas used for hearing when scans were performed on these mice. These tests suggest that noise-induced hearing loss is contributing to some unknown damage because inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage.
But this finding of inflammation also brings about the opportunity for a new form of therapy. Because handling inflammation is something we know how to do (in general). When the mice were given drugs that impeded the observed inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus disappeared. Or at the very least there were no longer observable symptoms of tinnitus.
So is There a Pill to Treat Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough view, you can probably look at this research and see how, one day, there could definitely 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 at bay.
That’s certainly the objective, but there are numerous big obstacles in the way:
- To start with, these experiments were conducted on mice. This method isn’t approved yet for humans and it might be quite some time before that happens.
- We still need to establish whether any new approach is safe; it may take a while to identify precise side effects, complications, or challenges related to these particular medications that block inflammation.
- There are many causes for tinnitus; it’s really difficult to know (for now) whether all or even most tinnitus is related to inflammation of some type.
So, a pill for tinnitus might be a long way off. But at least it’s now achievable. If you suffer from tinnitus today, that signifies a significant increase in hope. And other solutions are also being studied. Every new discovery, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus a little bit nearer.
Ca Anything be Done Now?
If you have a continual ringing or buzzing in your ears today, the potential of a far off pill may provide you with hope – but not necessarily relief. Current treatments may not “cure” your tinnitus but they do give real results.
Some techniques include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies designed to help you dismiss the noises linked to your tinnitus. A cure could be several years away, but that doesn’t mean you have to cope with tinnitus on your own or unaided. 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. Get in touch with us for a consultation now.