You’re living with tinnitus and you’ve learned to adjust your life to it. You always keep the TV on to help you tune out the constant ringing. The loud music at happy hour makes your tinnitus a lot worse so you refrain from going out with your coworkers. You make appointments regularly to try new therapies and new treatments. Over time, you simply integrate your tinnitus into your everyday life.
The primary reason is that tinnitus has no cure. But they could be getting close. We may be getting close to a reliable and lasting cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. Until that happens, hearing aids can be really helpful.
The Specific Causes of Tinnitus Are Unclear
Someone who has tinnitus will hear a ringing or buzzing (or other noises) that don’t have an external source. Tinnitus is really common and millions of individuals cope with it to some degree.
Generally speaking, tinnitus is itself a symptom of an underlying problem and not a cause in and of itself. Basically, something causes tinnitus – there’s an underlying issue that creates tinnitus symptoms. One reason why a “cure” for tinnitus is elusive is that these underlying causes can be hard to narrow down. Tinnitus symptoms can manifest due to a number of reasons.
Even the relationship between tinnitus and hearing loss is unclear. Some people who have tinnitus do have hearing loss but some don’t.
Inflammation: a New Culprit
Research published in PLOS Biology detailed a study led by Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor of physiology at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon. Dr. Bao performed experiments on mice who had tinnitus caused by noise-induced hearing loss. And the results of these experiments indicated a culprit of tinnitus: inflammation.
Tests and scans carried out on these mice showed that the areas of the brain responsible for listening and hearing consistently had considerable inflammation. As inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage, this finding does suggest that noise-related hearing loss might be causing some damage we don’t really understand as of yet.
But this knowledge of inflammation also leads to the possibility of a new form of treatment. Because we know (generally speaking) how to deal with inflammation. The symptoms of tinnitus went away when the mice were given drugs that impeded inflammation. Or it became impossible to observe any symptoms, at least.
So is There a Magic Pill That Cures Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough look, you can most likely view this research and see how, one day, there could easily be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that, rather than investing in these numerous coping mechanisms, you can simply take a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
That’s certainly the goal, but there are a number of large hurdles in the way:
- Any new approach needs to be proven safe; these inflammation blocking medicines will need to be tested over time to rule out side effects and any potential concerns.
- First, these experiments were done on mice. And there’s a lot to do before this particular approach is deemed safe and approved for people.
- The exact cause of tinnitus will be distinct from one individual to another; whether all or even most cases of tinnitus are linked to some kind of inflammation is still hard to know.
So, a pill for tinnitus might be a long way off. But it’s a real possibility in the future. That’s significant hope for your tinnitus down the road. And, of course, this strategy in managing tinnitus is not the only one currently being studied. The cure for tinnitus gets closer and closer with every development and every bit of new knowledge.
Is There Anything You Can Do?
In the meantime, people who suffered from tinnitus should feel hopeful that in the future there will be a cure for tinnitus. There are contemporary treatments for tinnitus that can produce real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the underlying problem.
Some strategies include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies designed to help you ignore the sounds connected to your tinnitus. Many individuals also find relief with hearing aids. You don’t need to go it alone in spite of the fact that a cure is probably several years away. Finding a treatment that works can help you spend more time doing things you love, and less time focusing on that buzzing or ringing in your ears.