Hearing Health Blog

Man suffering from ringing in the ears reads about new research into the causes of tinnitus.

Figuring out how to live with tinnitus is often how you manage it. To help tune it out you leave the television on. And loud music at bars is causing your hearing loss to get worse so you stay away from going dancing. You consult with specialists regularly to try new treatments and new techniques. You just fold tinnitus into your everyday life eventually.

Mostly, that’s because there isn’t any cure for tinnitus. Changes may be coming, however. New research published in PLOS Biology shows that an effective and permanent cure for tinnitus might be coming.

Tinnitus Causes

You’re experiencing tinnitus if you hear a buzzing or ringing (or occasionally other noises) with no apparent cause. A problem that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is exceptionally common.

And it isn’t a cause itself but an indication of some other problem. Put simply, tinnitus is caused by something else – there’s a root problem that creates tinnitus symptoms. These root causes can be difficult to diagnose and that’s one reason why a cure is challenging. Tinnitus symptoms can occur due to a number of reasons.

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 there are some people who have tinnitus and don’t have any hearing loss.

Inflammation: a New Culprit

Dr. Shaowen Bao, who is associate professor of physiology at Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon has recently published research. Mice that had tinnitus brought about 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.

According to the tests and scans done on these mice, inflammation was seen around the areas of the brain responsible for hearing. These tests indicate that noise-induced hearing loss is producing some unknown damage because inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage.

But a new kind of approach is also opened up by these results. Because we know (generally speaking) how to handle inflammation. When the mice were given medication that inhibited the detected inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus faded away. Or, at a minimum, those symptoms weren’t observable any longer

Does This Mean There’s a Pill for Tinnitus?

If you take a patient enough view, you can definitely look at this research and see how, one day, there could easily be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that–rather than counting on these various coping mechanisms, you can just pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.

That’s clearly the goal, but there are many substantial hurdles in the way:

  • Any new approach needs to be confirmed to be safe; these inflammation blocking medications could have harmful side effects that could take some time to identify.
  • There are a number of causes for tinnitus; it’s really difficult to know (at this point) whether all or even most tinnitus is connected to inflammation of some type.
  • First, these experiments were performed on mice. This method is not yet approved for humans and it may be quite some time before that happens.

So, a pill to treat tinnitus may be pretty far off. But it’s no longer impossible. That should give anyone who has tinnitus substantial hope. And, clearly, this approach in treating tinnitus is not the only one currently being studied. That cure gets closer and closer with every bit of 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 could give you hope – but probably not relief. Modern treatments might not “cure” your tinnitus but they do produce real results.

Some methods include noise-cancellation units or cognitive therapies designed to help you brush off the noises related to your tinnitus. You don’t have to wait for a cure to get relief, you can find 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.

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