You’re living with tinnitus and you’ve learned to adjust your life to it. In order to drown out the constant ringing, you always keep the TV on. The loud music at happy hour makes your tinnitus a lot worse so you avoid going out with your coworkers. You make appointments regularly to try new therapies and new techniques. Over time, you simply integrate your tinnitus into your everyday life.
The main reason is that tinnitus can’t be cured. But they could be getting close. We may be getting close to a reliable and permanent cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. Until then, hearing aids can be really helpful.
The Specific Causes of Tinnitus Are Unclear
Tinnitus normally is experienced as a ringing or buzzing in the ear (though, tinnitus could present as other sounds too) that do not have an objective cause. Tinnitus is very common and millions of people deal with it to some degree.
It’s also a symptom, generally speaking, and not itself a cause. Basically, something causes tinnitus – there’s a root issue that produces tinnitus symptoms. It can be hard to narrow down the cause of tinnitus and that’s one reason why a cure is so elusive. Tinnitus symptoms can manifest due to a number of reasons.
True, most individuals attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some sort, but even that relationship is murky. There’s a link, sure, but not all people who have tinnitus also have hearing loss (and vice versa).
A New Culprit: Inflammation
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 that had tinnitus triggered by noise-induced hearing loss. And what she and her colleagues discovered indicates a tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Scans and tests carried out on these mice revealed that the areas of the brain responsible for listening and hearing consistently had significant inflammation. As inflammation is the body’s response to damage, this finding does indicate that noise-related hearing loss might be causing some damage we don’t fully understand as of yet.
But this knowledge of inflammation also brings about the potential for a new type of treatment. Because inflammation is something we know how to address. The symptoms of tinnitus cleared up 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 view, you can most likely view this research and see how, one day, there may easily be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that, rather than investing in these various coping mechanisms, you can just pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
That’s definitely the goal, but there are a number of large hurdles in the way:
- Not everyone’s tinnitus will have the same cause; whether all or even most instances of tinnitus are related to some kind of inflammation is still hard to know.
- First, these experiments were done on mice. And there’s a lot to do before this specific approach is deemed safe and approved for humans.
- Any new approach needs to be proven safe; it might take some time to determine specific side effects, complications, or problems related to these specific inflammation-blocking medicines.
So, a pill for tinnitus might be a long way off. But it’s no longer impossible. That’s considerable hope for your tinnitus down the road. And several other tinnitus treatments are also being researched. The cure for tinnitus gets closer and closer with every breakthrough and every bit of new knowledge.
What Can You do Today?
In the meantime, individuals with tinnitus should feel optimistic that in the future there will be a cure for tinnitus. Even though we don’t have a cure for tinnitus, there are some contemporary treatments that can produce real benefits.
Some strategies include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies designed to help you ignore the sounds related to your tinnitus. Hearing aids frequently offer relief for many individuals. A cure may be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you need to cope with tinnitus by yourself 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.