You’re living with tinnitus and you’ve learned to adjust your life to it. In order to drown out the continuous ringing, you always leave 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’re always making appointments to try new techniques and therapies. Ultimately, your tinnitus just becomes something you integrate into your day-to-day life.
Mainly, that’s because there isn’t a cure for tinnitus. But they could be getting close. Research published in PLOS Biology appears to give hope that we may be getting closer to a permanent and reliable cure for tinnitus. Until that happens, hearing aids can be really helpful.
The Specific Causes of Tinnitus Are Unclear
Tinnitus usually is experienced as a ringing or buzzing in the ear (though, tinnitus could present as other sounds as well) that do not have an objective cause. Tinnitus is quite common and millions of people cope with it on some level.
Generally speaking, tinnitus is itself a symptom of an underlying problem and not a cause in and of itself. Tinnitus is essentially caused by something else. 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 develop due to a number of reasons.
Even the connection between tinnitus and hearing loss is not well understood. Some people who have tinnitus do have hearing loss but some don’t.
A New Culprit: Inflammation
Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, conducted a study published in PLOS Biology. Mice who had noise-related tinnitus were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And what she and her team discovered points to a tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
According to the tests and scans carried out on these mice, inflammation was seen in the areas of the brain responsible for listening. As inflammation is the body’s response to damage, this finding does suggest that noise-related hearing loss may be creating some damage we don’t completely comprehend as yet.
But new forms of treatment are also made possible by this discovery of inflammation. Because inflammation is something we know how to deal with. When the mice were given drugs that inhibited the observed inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus disappeared. 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 might 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 having to turn to all those coping mechanisms.
That’s certainly the goal, but there are a number of huge hurdles in the way:
- Not everybody’s tinnitus will have the same cause; it’s hard to identify (at this stage) whether all or even most tinnitus is related to inflammation of some sort.
- First, these experiments were conducted on mice. And there’s a long way to go before this specific strategy is deemed safe and approved for people.
- 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 complications.
So, a pill for tinnitus might be a long way off. But it’s a real possibility in the future. If you have tinnitus today, that represents a considerable increase in hope. And several other tinnitus treatments are also being studied. The cure for tinnitus gets closer and closer with every breakthrough and every bit of new knowledge.
Is There Anything You Can Do?
For now, individuals with tinnitus should feel hopeful that in the future there will be a cure for tinnitus. There are contemporary treatments for tinnitus that can provide real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the underlying issue.
Some methods include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies created to help you ignore the sounds linked to your tinnitus. Many individuals also find relief with hearing aids. You don’t need to go it alone despite the fact that a cure is likely several years away. 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.