You learn to adjust to life with tinnitus. You always keep the TV on to help you tune out the constant ringing. You avoid going out for happy hour with coworkers because the loud music at the bar makes your tinnitus worse for days. You make appointments routinely to try out new therapies and new techniques. Over time, you simply fold your tinnitus into your daily life.
Mainly, that’s because there’s no cure for tinnitus. But that may be changing. We might be getting close to an effective and permanent cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. Until that happens, hearing aids can be really helpful.
Tinnitus Has a Cloudy Set of Causes
Tinnitus usually is experienced as a ringing or buzzing in the ear (though, tinnitus could manifest as other sounds as well) that do not have an objective cause. A condition that affects millions of people, tinnitus is very common.
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 pin down the cause of tinnitus and that’s one of the reasons why a cure is so evasive. There are a number of reasons why tinnitus can develop.
True, most individuals attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some type, but even that relationship is murky. 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, directed a study published in PLOS Biology. Mice who had noise-induced tinnitus were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And the results of these experiments indicated a culprit of tinnitus: inflammation.
According to the tests and scans carried out on these mice, inflammation was discovered in the areas of the brain responsible for listening. This suggests that some damage is happening as a consequence of noise-induced hearing loss which we currently don’t comprehend because inflammation is the body’s response to injury.
But this knowledge of inflammation also leads to the potential for a new type of treatment. Because we know (broadly speaking) how to manage inflammation. The symptoms of tinnitus cleared up when the mice were given drugs that inhibited inflammation. Or, at least, those symptoms weren’t observable anymore.
So is There a Magic Pill That Cures Tinnitus?
This research does seem to indicate that, in the long run, there might actually be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that, rather than investing in these various coping mechanisms, you can just take a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
We might get there if we can tackle a few hurdles:
- Mice were the subject of these experiments. And there’s a lot to do before this particular approach is deemed safe and approved for people.
- Not everybody’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; it’s hard to identify (at this time) whether all or even most tinnitus is connected to inflammation of some type.
- Any new approach needs to be demonstrated to be safe; it may take some time to determine specific side effects, complications, or problems related to these specific inflammation-blocking medications.
So it might be a while before we have a pill for tinnitus. But it’s a real possibility in the future. If you have tinnitus today, that represents a substantial increase in hope. And various other tinnitus treatments are also being researched. Every new breakthrough, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a little bit closer.
What Can You do Now?
In the meantime, individuals who suffered from tinnitus should feel hopeful that in the future there will be a cure for tinnitus. Although we don’t have a cure for tinnitus, there are some modern treatments that can provide real results.
Some strategies include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies created to help you ignore the sounds related to your tinnitus. Hearing aids frequently provide relief for many individuals. A cure might be many years off, but that doesn’t mean you need to cope with tinnitus by yourself or unaided. Obtaining a treatment that is effective can help you spend more time doing what you love, and less time thinking about that buzzing or ringing in your ears.