New Investigations Into What Causes Tinnitus

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

When you have tinnitus, you learn to deal with it. You leave the television on to help you tune out the constant ringing. And loud music at bars is making your tinnitus worse so you avoid going dancing. You’re regularly trying new solutions and strategies with your hearing care expert. Eventually, your tinnitus just becomes something you fold into your everyday way of life.

Mostly, that’s because there’s no cure for tinnitus. But that could be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology shows that an reliable and permanent cure for tinnitus could be coming soon.

Causes of Tinnitus

Tinnitus commonly is experienced as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (although, tinnitus might be present as other sounds as well) that do not have a concrete cause. A condition that impacts over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is remarkably common.

It’s also a symptom, in general, and not a cause in and of itself. Put simply, something triggers tinnitus – there’s an underlying issue that creates tinnitus symptoms. These root causes can be difficult to diagnose and that’s one reason why a cure is elusive. Tinnitus symptoms can appear due to a number of reasons.

It is true, most people attribute tinnitus to loss of hearing of some kind, but even that relationship is unclear. There’s a link, sure, but not all people who suffer from tinnitus also have loss of hearing (and vice versa).

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 caused by noise-induced loss of hearing. And a new culprit for tinnitus was revealed by her and her team: inflammation.

According to the scans and tests carried out on these mice, inflammation was observed in the parts of the brain responsible for listening. As inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage, this finding does indicate that noise-induced loss of hearing could be creating some damage we don’t fully understand yet.

But a new form of treatment is also opened up by these discoveries. Because dealing with inflammation is something we know how to do (in general). When the mice were given medication that inhibited the detected inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus vanished. Or at the very least there were no longer observable symptoms of tinnitus.

So is There a Pill For Tinnitus?

One day there will probably 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.

There are some hurdles but that is certainly the goal:

  • Not everyone’s tinnitus will happen the same way; it’s hard to understand (for now) whether all or even most tinnitus is connected to inflammation of some type.
  • First off, these experiments were done on mice. This strategy is not yet approved for humans and it could be some time before that happens.
  • Any new approach needs to be proven safe; these inflammation blocking medications could have unsafe side effects that still need to be identified.

So it could be pretty far off before we have a pill to treat tinnitus. But it isn’t impossible. That should give anyone who has tinnitus substantial hope. And other solutions are also being researched. Every new finding, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a little bit nearer.

What Can You do Today?

You may have hope for an eventual tinnitus pill but that won’t offer you any comfort for your prolonged buzzing or ringing right now. There are current therapies for tinnitus that can produce real results, even if they don’t really “cure” the root problem.

Being able to tune out or ignore tinnitus sounds, oftentimes using noise canceling headphones or cognitive therapies is what modern techniques are striving to do. A cure could be several years off, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with tinnitus on your own or unassisted. Spending less time stressing about the ringing or buzzing in your ears and more time doing what you enjoy is the reason why you need to let us help you discover a treatment that works for you. Schedule your appointment right away.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.