McDonald Hearing Services - Grand Rapids, MI

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

Learning to live with tinnitus is often how you manage it. You keep the television on to help you tune the constant ringing out. And loud music at bars is causing your hearing loss to get worse so you avoid going dancing. You’re always trying new therapies and techniques with your specialist. Eventually, your tinnitus just becomes something you work into your daily way of life.

For the most part, that’s because there’s no cure for tinnitus. Changes could be coming, however. New research published in PLOS Biology seems to offer promise that we may be getting closer to a permanent and effective cure for tinnitus.

Tinnitus Causes

Tinnitus normally manifests as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (although, tinnitus might be present as other sounds too) that do not have a concrete cause. A condition that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is incredibly common.

And it’s not a cause itself but a symptom of some other problem. Put simply, tinnitus is caused by something else – there’s an underlying issue that creates tinnitus symptoms. These underlying causes can be hard to diagnose and that’s one reason why a cure is challenging. Tinnitus symptoms can manifest due to quite a few reasons.

It is true, the majority of people connect tinnitus to hearing loss of some kind, but even that relationship is uncertain. There is some connection 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 released a study. Dr. Bao did experiments on mice who had tinnitus induced by noise-induced hearing loss. And a new culprit for tinnitus was revealed by her and her team: inflammation.

Based on the scans and tests carried out on these mice, inflammation was found around the parts of the brain responsible for listening. These tests suggest that noise-induced hearing loss is contributing to some unknown injury because inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage.

But a new form of approach is also opened up by these results. Because dealing with inflammation is something we understand how to do (in general). When the mice were given medication that inhibited the observed inflammation reaction, the symptoms of tinnitus vanished. Or, at least, those symptoms weren’t observable any longer

So is There a Pill For Tinnitus?

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

There are some obstacles but that is certainly the goal:

  • Not everyone’s tinnitus will happen the same way; it’s difficult to understand (at this point) whether all or even most tinnitus is associated with inflammation of some type.
  • All new approaches need to be proven safe; it might take a while to identify specific side effects, concerns, or issues related to these particular inflammation-blocking medications.
  • First off, these experiments were done on mice. This method isn’t approved yet for people and it might be a while before that happens.

So, a pill for tinnitus may be pretty far off. But it’s no longer impossible. If you have tinnitus today, that signifies a significant increase in hope. And, of course, this strategy in dealing with tinnitus is not the only one currently being researched. That cure gets closer with every bit of practical knowledge and every new discovery.

What Can You do Today?

You may have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that won’t give you any comfort for your constant buzzing or ringing right now. There are current therapies for tinnitus that can deliver real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the underlying issue.

Some techniques include noise-cancellation units or cognitive therapies manufactured to help you ignore the noises connected to your tinnitus. A cure could be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you should 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. Contact us for a consultation right away.