You learn to adjust to life with tinnitus. You always leave the TV on to help you tune out the continuous ringing. The loud music at happy hour makes your tinnitus a lot worse so you avoid going out with your friends. You make appointments routinely to try new therapies and new techniques. Eventually, your tinnitus just becomes something you integrate into your day-to-day life.
Mostly, that’s because there isn’t a cure for tinnitus. But that might be changing. We might be getting close to a reliable and lasting cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. Until then, hearing aids can be really helpful.
Tinnitus Has a Murky Set of Causes
Somebody who is coping with tinnitus will hear a ringing or buzzing (or other noises) that don’t have an external source. A disorder that impacts millions of people, tinnitus is extremely common.
Generally speaking, tinnitus is itself a symptom of an underlying condition 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 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. 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, led 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.
Scans and tests carried out on these mice found that the parts of the brain responsible for listening and hearing persistently had significant inflammation. This reveals that some damage is happening as a consequence of noise-related hearing loss which we currently don’t comprehend because inflammation is the body’s response to damage.
But this knowledge of inflammation also leads to the possibility of a new type of treatment. Because inflammation is something we know how to manage. The symptoms of tinnitus cleared up when the mice were given drugs that impeded inflammation. Or it became impossible to observe any symptoms, at least.
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 may 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 needing to resort to all those coping mechanisms.
That’s certainly the goal, but there are a number of big hurdles in the way:
- Any new approach needs to be proven safe; it may take some time to determine particular side effects, complications, or problems linked to these particular inflammation-blocking medicines.
- Not everybody’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; it’s difficult to know (at this time) whether all or even most tinnitus is related to inflammation of some kind.
- First, these experiments were carried out on mice. And there’s a lot to do before this specific approach is deemed safe and approved for humans.
So, a pill for tinnitus might be a long way off. 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 studied. The cure for tinnitus gets closer and closer with every discovery and every bit of new knowledge.
Is There Anything You Can Do?
If you have a persistent buzzing or ringing in your ears today, the promise of a far-off pill might give you hope – but not necessarily relief. Although we don’t have a cure for tinnitus, there are some contemporary treatments that can produce real benefits.
There are cognitive therapies that help you learn to ignore tinnitus noises and others that use noise cancellation techniques. Many people also find relief with hearing aids. You don’t have to go it alone despite the fact that a cure is probably 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.