You’re living with tinnitus and you’ve learned to adjust your life to it. In order to tune out the constant ringing, you always leave the TV on. The loud music at happy hour makes your tinnitus much worse so you refrain from going out with your coworkers. You make appointments regularly to try new therapies and new techniques. After a while, you simply fold your tinnitus into your everyday life.
The main reason is that tinnitus has no cure. But that might be changing. We may be getting close to a reliable and permanent cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. Until that happens, hearing aids can be really helpful.
The Exact Causes of Tinnitus Are Unclear
Someone who has tinnitus will hear a ringing or buzzing (or other noises) that don’t have an external source. Tinnitus is really common and millions of people deal with it to some degree.
Generally speaking, tinnitus is itself a symptom of an underlying problem and not a cause in and of itself. Tinnitus is generally caused by something else. It can be hard to narrow down the cause of tinnitus and that’s one of the reasons 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 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. Dr. Bao performed experiments on mice that had tinnitus caused by noise-induced hearing loss. And what she and her team found points to a tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
According to the tests and scans performed on these mice, inflammation was discovered around the areas of the brain responsible for listening. This indicates that some injury is taking place as a consequence of noise-related hearing loss which we currently don’t understand because inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage.
But this discovery of inflammation also results in the possibility of a new type of treatment. Because we know (generally speaking) how to manage inflammation. The symptoms of tinnitus cleared up when the mice were given drugs that impeded inflammation. Or, at least, those symptoms were no longer observable.
So is There a Magic Pill That Cures Tinnitus?
This research does appear to suggest that, eventually, there may actually be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that, rather than investing in these various coping mechanisms, you can simply pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
That’s definitely the goal, but there are several huge hurdles in the way:
- Any new approach needs to be proven safe; these inflammation blocking medications will need to be tested over time to rule out side effects and any potential complications.
- Not everyone’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; whether all or even most cases of tinnitus are linked to some sort of inflammation is still hard to know.
- Mice were the subject of these experiments. And there’s a lot to do before this specific strategy is considered safe and approved for people.
So, a pill for tinnitus may be a long way off. But it’s no longer impossible. If you have tinnitus now, that represents a significant increase in hope. 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.
Is There Anything You Can Do?
If you have a relentless ringing or buzzing in your ears now, the promise of a far-off pill may provide you with hope – but not necessarily alleviation. Although we don’t have a cure for tinnitus, there are some contemporary treatments that can provide real results.
There are cognitive treatments that help you learn to ignore tinnitus noises and others that employ noise cancellation techniques. Hearing aids frequently provide relief for many people. You don’t have 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 getting the right treatment.