You’re living with tinnitus and you’ve learned to adjust your life to it. In order to tune out the persistent ringing, you always keep the TV on. You refrain from going out for happy hour with coworkers because the loud music at the bar makes your tinnitus worse for days. You make appointments regularly to try new therapies and new techniques. Over time, you simply fold your tinnitus into your everyday life.
Mainly, that’s because there isn’t a cure for tinnitus. But they may be getting close. A study published in PLOS Biology seems to give hope that we could be getting closer to a lasting and effective cure for tinnitus. In the meantime, hearing aids can really help.
The Precise Causes of Tinnitus Are Not Clear
Tinnitus normally is experienced as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (though, tinnitus could present as other sounds too) that do not have an objective cause. Tinnitus is quite common and millions of people deal with it on some level.
It’s also a symptom, broadly speaking, and not a cause unto itself. Tinnitus is essentially 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 occur.
True, most individuals attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some kind, but even that relationship is murky. Some individuals who have tinnitus do have hearing loss but some don’t.
A New Culprit: Inflammation
Research published in PLOS Biology outlined a study led 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 indicates a tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Tests and scans carried out on these mice revealed that the regions of the brain in control of listening and hearing typically had significant inflammation. This indicates that some damage is happening as a result of noise-induced hearing loss which we presently don’t understand because inflammation is the body’s reaction to injury.
But this discovery of inflammation also leads to the possibility of a new type of treatment. Because inflammation is something we know how to address. The symptoms of tinnitus went away when the mice were given drugs that impeded inflammation. Or, at least, those symptoms weren’t observable anymore.
So is There a Magic Pill That Cures Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough view, you can most likely view this research and see how, one day, there may easily be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if you could just pop a pill in the morning and keep tinnitus at bay all day without needing to turn to all those coping mechanisms.
That’s definitely the goal, but there are numerous large hurdles in the way:
- Mice were the focus of these experiments. Before this strategy is considered safe for people, there’s still a significant amount of work to do.
- We need to make sure any new approach is safe; it might take some time to identify particular side effects, complications, or issues linked to these particular inflammation-blocking medications.
- Not everybody’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; whether all or even most cases of tinnitus are linked to some sort of inflammation is still hard to know.
So it may be a while before there’s a pill for tinnitus. But it’s a genuine possibility in the future. If you have tinnitus now, that represents a substantial increase in hope. And several other tinnitus treatments are also being researched. The cure for tinnitus gets closer and closer with every development and every bit of new knowledge.
Is There Anything You Can Do?
For now, individuals who suffered from tinnitus should feel hopeful that in the future there will be a cure for tinnitus. Although we don’t have a cure for tinnitus, there are some modern treatments that can provide real results.
Some strategies include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies designed to help you ignore the sounds connected to your tinnitus. Many people 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.