You learn to adjust to life with tinnitus. You always keep the television 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 coworkers. You’re always going in to try new techniques and therapies. Ultimately, your tinnitus just becomes something you fold into your daily life.
The main reason is that tinnitus can’t be cured. But that might be changing. We might be getting close to an effective and lasting cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. Until that happens, hearing aids can be really helpful.
The Precise Causes of Tinnitus Are Not Clear
Somebody who is coping with tinnitus will hear a buzzing or ringing (or other sounds) that don’t have an external source. Tinnitus is quite common and millions of people cope with it on some level.
Generally speaking, tinnitus is itself a symptom of an underlying condition and not a cause in and of itself. In other words, something causes tinnitus – there’s an underlying problem that produces tinnitus symptoms. One reason why a “cure” for tinnitus is evasive is that these underlying causes can be hard to narrow down. Tinnitus symptoms can develop due to a number of reasons.
Even the link between tinnitus and hearing loss is unclear. There’s a link, sure, but not all individuals who have tinnitus also have hearing loss (and vice versa).
Inflammation: a New Culprit
Research published in PLOS Biology outlined a study directed 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 the results of these experiments pointed to a culprit of tinnitus: inflammation.
Scans and tests done on these mice found that the regions of the brain in control of listening and hearing typically had considerable inflammation. This reveals that some damage is occurring as a consequence of noise-related hearing loss which we presently don’t comprehend because inflammation is the body’s response to damage.
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 cleared up when the mice were given drugs that impeded inflammation. Or, at least, those symptoms weren’t observable anymore.
Does This Mean There’s a Pill For Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough look, you can most likely view this research and see how, one day, there might 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 big hurdles in the way:
- First, these experiments were conducted on mice. And there’s a lot to do before this specific strategy is considered safe and approved for humans.
- We need to make sure any new approach is safe; it might take some time to identify particular side effects, complications, or problems related to these particular inflammation-blocking medicines.
- Not everybody’s tinnitus will have the same cause; whether all or even most cases of tinnitus are related to some kind of inflammation is still difficult to know.
So it might be a while before there’s a pill for tinnitus. But it’s a genuine possibility in the future. That’s considerable hope for your tinnitus down the road. And, of course, this strategy in treating tinnitus is not the only one currently being explored. Every new development, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a little bit closer.
What Can You do Today?
If you have a relentless ringing or buzzing in your ears now, the potential of a far-off pill may give you 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 issue.
There are cognitive therapies 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 could be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you have to cope with tinnitus by yourself or unassisted. Obtaining a treatment that works can help you spend more time doing things you love, and less time thinking about that buzzing or ringing in your ears.