You’re living with tinnitus and you’ve learned to adjust your life to it. In order to tune out the persistent 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’re always going in to try new techniques and treatments. After a while, you simply integrate your tinnitus into your everyday life.
Mainly, that’s because there’s no cure for tinnitus. But they could be getting close. We may be getting close to an effective and lasting cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. In the meantime, hearing aids can really help.
Tinnitus Has a Cloudy Set of Causes
Someone who has tinnitus will hear a ringing or buzzing (or other noises) that don’t have an outside source. Tinnitus is very common and millions of individuals cope with it on some level.
Generally speaking, tinnitus is itself a symptom of an underlying condition and not a cause in and of itself. Basically, something causes tinnitus – there’s a root problem that produces tinnitus symptoms. One reason why a “cure” for tinnitus is evasive is that these root causes can be difficult to pin down. There are numerous reasons why tinnitus can occur.
True, most people attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some sort, but even that relationship is murky. There’s a correlation, sure, but not all individuals who have tinnitus also have hearing loss (and vice versa).
A New Culprit: Inflammation
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 performed experiments on mice who had tinnitus triggered by noise-induced hearing loss. And what she and her team found indicates a tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Tests and scans done on these mice found that the parts of the brain responsible for listening and hearing persistently had considerable inflammation. This indicates that some damage is occurring as a result of noise-related hearing loss which we currently don’t comprehend because inflammation is the body’s reaction to injury.
But this knowledge of inflammation also leads to the potential for a new kind of treatment. Because we know (broadly speaking) how to manage inflammation. When the mice were given drugs that inhibited the observed inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus disappeared. 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 might easily be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that, instead of 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 a number of huge hurdles in the way:
- First, these experiments were conducted on mice. And there’s a long way to go before this particular strategy is deemed safe and approved for people.
- The exact cause of tinnitus will differ from person to person; it’s hard to know (at this time) whether all or even most tinnitus is related to inflammation of some kind.
- Any new approach needs to be proven safe; these inflammation blocking medicines will need to be tested over time to rule out side effects and any potential complications.
So, a pill for tinnitus may be a long way off. But it’s a genuine possibility in the future. That’s significant hope for your tinnitus down the road. And, of course, this approach in managing tinnitus isn’t the only one currently being researched. The cure for tinnitus gets closer and closer with every development and every bit of new knowledge.
Is There Anything You Can Do?
In the meantime, people with tinnitus should feel optimistic that in the future there will be a cure for tinnitus. Even though we don’t have a cure for tinnitus, there are some modern treatments that can produce real benefits.
Some methods include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies designed to help you ignore the sounds related to your tinnitus. Many individuals also get relief with hearing aids. A cure could be many years off, but that doesn’t mean you have to cope with tinnitus alone or unaided. Finding a treatment that works can help you spend more time doing things you love, and less time thinking about that buzzing or ringing in your ears.