New Research Into What Causes Tinnitus
When you have tinnitus, you learn to live with it. You keep the television on to help you tune out the constant ringing. You avoid going dancing because the loud music at the bar causes your tinnitus to get worse for days. You consult with specialists regularly to try new solutions and new strategies. Eventually, your tinnitus simply becomes something you work into your everyday life.
Tinnitus doesn’t have a cure so you feel powerless. Changes may be coming, however. New research published in PLOS Biology seems to provide hope that we might be getting closer to a permanent and reliable cure for tinnitus.
Tinnitus commonly is experienced as a ringing or buzzing in the ear (though, tinnitus could be present as other noises too) that do not have a concrete cause. A problem that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, it’s very common for people to have tinnitus.
It’s also a symptom, in general, and not a cause in and of itself. Put simply, tinnitus is caused by something else – there’s a root problem that brings about tinnitus symptoms. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is elusive is that these underlying causes can be difficult to pin down. Tinnitus symptoms can occur due to numerous reasons.
It is true, the majority of people connect tinnitus to loss of hearing of some kind, but even that relationship is not clear. There’s a relationship, sure, but not all people who suffer from tinnitus also have loss of hearing (and vice versa).
Inflammation: a New Culprit
The new research published in PLOS Biology outlined a study lead 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 loss of hearing were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And what she and her team discovered suggests a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Based on the tests and scans performed on these mice, inflammation was found across the areas of the brain responsible for hearing. These tests reveal that noise-induced hearing loss is causing some unknown damage because inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage.
But this discovery of inflammation also leads to the possibility of a new kind of treatment. Because dealing with inflammation is something we know how to do (in general). 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?
If you take a long enough viewpoint, you can definitely 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 elements, you can just pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus under control.
There are a couple of obstacles but that is certainly the goal:
- Not everyone’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; it’s difficult to understand (for now) whether all or even most tinnitus is connected to inflammation of some kind.
- First, these experiments were done on mice. And there’s a long way to go before this particular method is safe and approved for people.
- Any new approach needs to be confirmed to be safe; these inflammation blocking medications may have unsafe side effects that could take some time to identify.
So it could be pretty far off before we have a pill for tinnitus. But at least now it’s achievable. That should give anybody who has tinnitus substantial hope. And other solutions are also being studied. That cure gets closer with every bit of knowledge and every new finding.
What Can You do Today?
You could have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that won’t offer you any comfort for your constant buzzing or ringing now. There are modern therapies for tinnitus that can deliver real results, even if they don’t really “cure” the underlying issue.
Some methods include noise-cancellation units or cognitive therapies manufactured to help you brush off the noises connected to your tinnitus. You don’t have to wait for a cure to get relief, you can find help coping with your tinnitus right now. 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. Get in touch with us for a consultation now.