You learn to adjust to living with tinnitus. You always leave the television on to help you tune out the constant ringing. You avoid going out for happy hour with friends because the loud music at the bar makes your tinnitus worse for days. You’re always going in to try new techniques and therapies. Ultimately, your tinnitus just becomes something you fold into your daily life.
Mainly, that’s because there isn’t a cure for tinnitus. But they may be getting close. We might be getting close to a reliable and lasting cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. For now, hearing aids can really help.
Tinnitus Has a Murky Set of Causes
Tinnitus usually manifests as a ringing or buzzing in the ear (though, tinnitus could manifest as other sounds too) that do not have an external cause. Tinnitus is really common and millions of people deal with it on some level.
Generally speaking, tinnitus is itself a symptom of an underlying problem and not a cause in and of itself. Tinnitus is essentially caused by something else. 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.
Even the connection between tinnitus and hearing loss is not well understood. Some people 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. Dr. Bao performed experiments on mice that had tinnitus triggered by noise-induced hearing loss. And what she and her colleagues discovered points to a tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
According to the tests and scans carried out on these mice, inflammation was observed in the areas of the brain responsible for listening. This reveals that some damage is happening as a result of noise-induced hearing loss which we presently don’t understand because inflammation is the body’s response to damage.
But this discovery of inflammation also results in the potential for a new kind of treatment. Because we know (broadly speaking) how to handle inflammation. The symptoms of tinnitus went away when the mice were given drugs that impeded inflammation. Or it became impossible to detect any symptoms, at least.
So is There a Magic Pill That Cures Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough view, you can probably look at this research and see how, eventually, there might easily be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if you could just take a pill in the morning and keep tinnitus at bay all day without having to resort to all those coping mechanisms.
That’s certainly the goal, but there are a number of large hurdles in the way:
- The precise cause of tinnitus will be distinct from person to person; it’s hard to know (at this stage) whether all or even most tinnitus is linked to inflammation of some type.
- First, these experiments were conducted on mice. And there’s a lot to do before this specific approach is deemed safe and approved for people.
- Any new approach needs to be proven safe; it may take some time to determine particular side effects, complications, or issues related to these particular inflammation-blocking medications.
So, a pill for tinnitus may be a long way off. But it’s not at all impossible. If you have tinnitus now, that represents a considerable increase in hope. And, obviously, this approach in managing tinnitus is not the only one presently being explored. The cure for tinnitus gets closer and closer with every discovery and every bit of new knowledge.
What Can You do Now?
For now, individuals 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 results.
There are cognitive treatments that help you learn to ignore tinnitus sounds and others that employ noise cancellation strategies. Many individuals also get relief with hearing aids. You don’t have to go it alone despite the fact that a cure is likely several years away. Spending less time thinking about the ringing in your ears and more time doing the things you love can happen for you by finding the right treatment.