You learn to adjust to living with tinnitus. You always keep the television on to help you tune out the constant ringing. 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 treatments. After a while, you simply fold your tinnitus into your everyday life.
Mainly, that’s because there’s no 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 effective cure for tinnitus. In the meantime, hearing aids can really help.
The Precise Causes of Tinnitus Are Unclear
Somebody who is coping with tinnitus will hear a buzzing or ringing (or other sounds) that don’t have an outside source. A condition that impacts millions of people, tinnitus is very common.
Generally speaking, tinnitus is itself a symptom of an underlying condition and not a cause in and of itself. Tinnitus is generally caused by something else. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is elusive is that these root causes can be difficult to narrow down. Tinnitus symptoms can develop 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 connection, 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 conducted by Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor of physiology at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon. Dr. Bao carried out experiments on mice that had tinnitus triggered by noise-induced hearing loss. 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 observed around the areas of the brain responsible for hearing. This suggests that some damage is taking place as a result of noise-related hearing loss which we presently don’t understand because inflammation is the body’s response to injury.
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 reaction, the symptoms of tinnitus went away. Or it became impossible to observe any symptoms, at least.
So is There a Magic Pill That Cures Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough look, you can probably view this research and see how, eventually, there could easily 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 may get there if we can overcome a few hurdles:
- We need to make sure any new approach is safe; it might take some time to determine specific side effects, complications, or problems linked to these specific inflammation-blocking medications.
- First, these experiments were carried out on mice. And there’s a lot to do before this specific strategy is considered safe and approved for people.
- The precise cause of tinnitus will be distinct from one individual to another; whether all or even most instances of tinnitus are connected to some kind of inflammation is still difficult to identify.
So it might be a while before we have a pill for tinnitus. But it’s a genuine possibility in the future. 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.
What Can You do Now?
If you have a relentless buzzing or ringing in your ears today, the promise of a far-off pill may provide you with hope – but not necessarily relief. There are contemporary treatments for tinnitus that can produce real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the underlying issue.
There are cognitive therapies that help you learn to ignore tinnitus sounds and others that employ noise cancellation techniques. Hearing aids often offer relief for many people. A cure might be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you have to cope with tinnitus by yourself or unassisted. 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.