You learn to adapt to living with tinnitus. You always keep the TV on to help you tune out the continuous ringing. The loud music at happy hour makes your tinnitus much worse so you avoid going out with your friends. You make appointments regularly to try out new therapies and new treatments. Over time, you simply fold your tinnitus into your everyday life.
Mostly, that’s because there’s no cure for tinnitus. But that may be changing. We may be getting close to an effective and permanent cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. In the meantime, hearing aids can really help.
The Precise Causes of Tinnitus Are Unclear
Somebody who has tinnitus will hear a ringing or buzzing (or other noises) that don’t have an external source. Tinnitus is very common and millions of people cope with it to some degree.
It’s also a symptom, broadly speaking, and not a cause unto itself. Tinnitus is essentially caused by something else. It can be hard to pin down the cause of tinnitus and that’s one of the reasons why a cure is so elusive. Tinnitus symptoms can manifest due to numerous reasons.
True, most individuals attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some sort, but even that relationship is murky. There’s a correlation, sure, but not all people who have tinnitus also have hearing loss (and vice versa).
A New Culprit: Inflammation
Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, led a study published in PLOS Biology. Mice with noise-induced tinnitus were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And the results of these experiments pointed to a culprit of tinnitus: inflammation.
Scans and tests carried out on these mice found that the regions of the brain in control of listening and hearing typically had considerable inflammation. This suggests that some injury is taking place as a consequence of noise-related hearing loss which we presently don’t understand because inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage.
But this knowledge of inflammation also brings about the possibility of a new form of treatment. Because we know (broadly speaking) how to manage inflammation. The symptoms of tinnitus went away when the mice were given drugs that inhibited inflammation. Or it became impossible to observe any symptoms, at least.
So is There a Magic Pill That Cures Tinnitus?
This research does appear to indicate that, in the long run, there may actually be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that, rather than investing in these numerous coping mechanisms, you can just take a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
We may get there if we can overcome a few hurdles:
- Any new approach needs to be proven safe; it might take some time to determine specific side effects, complications, or issues connected to these particular inflammation-blocking medications.
- Mice were the subject of these experiments. Before this approach is considered safe for people, there’s still a significant amount of work to do.
- The exact cause of tinnitus will differ from person to person; it’s difficult to identify (at this stage) whether all or even most tinnitus is connected to inflammation of some kind.
So it may be a while before we have a pill for tinnitus. But it’s a genuine possibility in the future. That’s significant hope for your tinnitus down the road. And, obviously, this strategy in treating tinnitus isn’t the only one currently being explored. The cure for tinnitus gets closer and closer with every development and every bit of new knowledge.
Is There Anything You Can Do?
If you have a chronic buzzing or ringing in your ears now, the potential of a far-off pill might provide you with hope – but not necessarily relief. There are contemporary treatments for tinnitus that can provide real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the underlying problem.
There are cognitive treatments that help you learn to ignore tinnitus noises and others that employ noise cancellation techniques. Many individuals also find relief with hearing aids. A cure may be many years off, but that doesn’t mean you have 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 finding the right treatment.