You learn to adjust to living with tinnitus. You always leave the TV on to help you tune out the continuous ringing. You avoid going out for happy hour with friends because the loud music at the bar makes your tinnitus worse for days. You’re always making appointments to try new techniques and therapies. Ultimately, your tinnitus just becomes something you integrate into your daily life.
Mainly, that’s because there’s no cure for tinnitus. But they may be getting close. A study published in PLOS Biology seems to offer hope that we may be getting closer to a permanent and reliable cure for tinnitus. In the meantime, hearing aids can really be helpful.
Tinnitus Has a Murky Set of Causes
Someone who has tinnitus will hear a buzzing or ringing (or other sounds) that don’t have an external source. Tinnitus is quite common and millions of individuals deal with it to some degree.
It’s also a symptom, broadly speaking, and not a cause unto itself. Tinnitus is generally caused by something else. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is elusive is that these underlying causes can be hard to pin down. There are several reasons why tinnitus can manifest.
True, most individuals attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some sort, but even that relationship is murky. Some individuals who have tinnitus do have hearing loss but some don’t.
Inflammation: a New Culprit
Research published in PLOS Biology outlined a study conducted by Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor of physiology at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon. Mice with noise-induced tinnitus were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And what she and her colleagues found points to a tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Scans and tests carried out on these mice found that the parts of the brain in control of listening and hearing consistently had considerable inflammation. As inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage, this finding does indicate that noise-related hearing loss might be creating some damage we don’t completely comprehend yet.
But this knowledge of inflammation also leads to the possibility of a new type of treatment. Because we know (broadly speaking) how to manage inflammation. When the mice were given drugs that impeded the observed inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus disappeared. Or it became impossible to observe any symptoms, at least.
So is There a Magic Pill That Cures Tinnitus?
This research does appear to suggest that, in the long run, there may actually be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that, instead of investing in these various coping mechanisms, you can just pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
We might get there if we can tackle a few hurdles:
- Mice were the focus of these experiments. Before this strategy is considered safe for humans, there’s still a substantial amount of work to do.
- We need to make sure any new approach is safe; it may take some time to determine particular side effects, complications, or problems linked to these particular inflammation-blocking medicines.
- The exact cause of tinnitus will differ from one individual to another; whether all or even most instances of tinnitus are connected to some sort of inflammation is still hard to identify.
So, a pill for tinnitus might be a long way off. But it’s not at all impossible. That’s considerable hope for your tinnitus down the road. And various other tinnitus treatments are also being studied. 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 relentless buzzing or ringing in your ears today, the promise of a far-off pill may give you hope – but not necessarily alleviation. There are modern treatments for tinnitus that can provide genuine results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the underlying issue.
There are cognitive therapies that help you learn to ignore tinnitus sounds and others that use noise cancellation strategies. Many individuals also find relief with hearing aids. You don’t have to go it alone in spite of the fact that a cure is likely several years away. Spending less time thinking about the ringing in your ears and more time doing the things you love can happen for you by finding the right treatment.