You learn to adjust to life with tinnitus. You always leave the television on to help you tune out the persistent ringing. The loud music at happy hour makes your tinnitus a lot worse so you refrain from going out with your friends. You make appointments regularly to try out new therapies and new treatments. After a while, you simply fold your tinnitus into your daily life.
The main reason is that tinnitus has no cure. But that may be changing. Research published in PLOS Biology appears to give hope that we may be getting closer to a permanent and reliable cure for tinnitus. Until then, hearing aids can be really helpful.
Tinnitus Has a Cloudy Set of Causes
Somebody who is coping with tinnitus will hear a ringing or buzzing (or other noises) that don’t have an external source. A disorder that affects millions of people, tinnitus is extremely common.
Generally speaking, tinnitus is itself a symptom of an underlying condition and not a cause in and of itself. Tinnitus is generally caused by something else. One reason why a “cure” for tinnitus is elusive is that these root causes can be hard to narrow down. There are a number of reasons why tinnitus can occur.
Even the link between tinnitus and hearing loss is not well understood. Some individuals who have tinnitus do have hearing loss but some don’t.
A New Culprit: Inflammation
Research published in PLOS Biology detailed a study conducted by Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor of physiology at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon. Mice with noise-related tinnitus were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And what she and her team discovered points to a tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
According to the tests and scans carried out on these mice, inflammation was seen in the areas of the brain responsible for listening. This indicates that some injury is taking place as a result of noise-induced hearing loss which we presently don’t comprehend because inflammation is the body’s response to damage.
But this discovery of inflammation also brings about the potential for a new kind of treatment. Because inflammation is something we know how to address. When the mice were given drugs that impeded the observed inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus disappeared. Or it became impossible to detect any symptoms, at least.
Does This Mean There’s a Pill For Tinnitus?
This research does appear to indicate that, in the long run, there may actually be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if you could just pop a pill in the morning and keep tinnitus at bay all day without having to turn to all those coping mechanisms.
We could get there if we can overcome a few hurdles:
- First, these experiments were done on mice. Before this approach is considered safe for people, there’s still a substantial amount of work to do.
- Not everybody’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; whether all or even most cases of tinnitus are connected to some kind of inflammation is still hard to identify.
- Any new approach needs to be proven safe; these inflammation blocking medications will have to be tested over time to rule out side effects and any potential concerns.
So, a pill for tinnitus might be a long way off. But it’s a genuine possibility in the future. If you have tinnitus today, that represents a significant increase in hope. And several other tinnitus treatments are also being researched. The cure for tinnitus gets closer and closer with every discovery and every bit of new knowledge.
Is There Anything You Can Do?
If you have a chronic buzzing or ringing in your ears today, the promise of a far-off pill might provide you with hope – but not necessarily alleviation. There are contemporary treatments for tinnitus that can produce real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the underlying issue.
There are cognitive treatments that help you learn to ignore tinnitus sounds and others that use noise cancellation techniques. Hearing aids frequently provide relief for many individuals. A cure might be many years off, but that doesn’t mean you need to deal with tinnitus alone or unassisted. Spending less time worrying about the ringing in your ears and more time doing the things you love can happen for you by getting the right treatment.