You learn to adapt to life with tinnitus. In order to drown out the persistent ringing, you always keep 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 out new therapies and new treatments. Ultimately, your tinnitus just becomes something you integrate into your day-to-day life.
The primary reason is that tinnitus has no cure. But they could be getting close. Research published in PLOS Biology appears to offer hope that we may be getting closer to a lasting and reliable cure for tinnitus. For now, hearing aids can really be helpful.
The Specific Causes of Tinnitus Are Unclear
Somebody who is coping with tinnitus will hear a ringing or buzzing (or other sounds) that don’t have an outside source. Tinnitus is quite common and millions of individuals cope with it to some degree.
It’s also a symptom, generally speaking, and not a cause unto itself. Tinnitus is essentially caused by something else. It can be difficult to narrow down the cause of tinnitus and that’s one reason why a cure is so elusive. Tinnitus symptoms can occur due to a number of reasons.
True, most individuals attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some kind, but even that relationship is unclear. Some individuals who have tinnitus do have hearing loss but some don’t.
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. Mice who had noise-induced tinnitus were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And the results of these experiments indicated a culprit of tinnitus: inflammation.
Scans and tests carried out on these mice revealed that the areas of the brain responsible for listening and hearing consistently had considerable inflammation. As inflammation is the body’s response to damage, this finding does indicate that noise-induced hearing loss might be causing some damage we don’t really understand as of yet.
But new forms of treatment are also made available by this discovery of inflammation. Because we know (generally speaking) how to handle inflammation. When the mice were given drugs that impeded the observed inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus disappeared. Or, at least, those symptoms were no longer observable.
So is There a Magic Pill That Cures Tinnitus?
This research does seem to indicate that, in the long run, there may actually be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if you could just take a pill in the morning and keep tinnitus at bay all day without needing to turn to all those coping mechanisms.
We could get there if we can overcome a few hurdles:
- First, these experiments were conducted on mice. And there’s a long way to go before this particular approach is considered safe and approved for people.
- We need to make sure any new strategy is safe; these inflammation blocking medications will have to be tested over time to rule out side effects and any potential complications.
- Not everybody’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; it’s hard to identify (at this point) whether all or even most tinnitus is related to inflammation of some sort.
So it might be a while before there’s a pill for tinnitus. But it’s not at all impossible. That’s significant hope for your tinnitus down the road. And several other tinnitus treatments are also being researched. Every new development, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a little bit closer.
Is There Anything You Can Do?
If you have a relentless buzzing or ringing in your ears today, the promise of a far-off pill might give you hope – but not necessarily alleviation. There are modern 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 designed to help you ignore the sounds related to your tinnitus. 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.