You learn to adapt to life with tinnitus. You always leave the TV on to help you tune out the persistent ringing. You avoid going out for happy hour with friends because the loud music at the bar makes your tinnitus worse for days. You make appointments regularly to try new therapies and new treatments. Eventually, your tinnitus just becomes something you fold into your day-to-day life.
Mainly, that’s because there’s no cure for tinnitus. But that could be changing. A study published in PLOS Biology seems to give hope that we could be getting closer to a permanent and reliable cure for tinnitus. In the meantime, hearing aids can really be helpful.
The Specific Causes of Tinnitus Are Not Clear
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.
It’s also a symptom, generally speaking, and not a cause unto itself. In other words, something causes tinnitus – there’s a root issue that creates tinnitus symptoms. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is evasive is that these root causes can be hard to pin down. There are several reasons why tinnitus can occur.
Even the relationship between tinnitus and hearing loss is not well understood. 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 directed by Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor of physiology at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon. Mice with noise-related tinnitus were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And the results of these experiments indicated a culprit of tinnitus: inflammation.
According to the scans and tests carried out on these mice, inflammation was discovered in the areas of the brain responsible for hearing. As inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage, this finding does suggest that noise-induced hearing loss might be creating some damage we don’t really understand as yet.
But new kinds of treatment are also made possible by this discovery of inflammation. Because we know (generally speaking) how to deal with inflammation. When the mice were given drugs that impeded the observed inflammation reaction, the symptoms of tinnitus disappeared. Or it became impossible to detect any symptoms, at least.
Does This Mean There’s a Pill For Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough look, you can probably view this research and see how, one day, there could 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 large hurdles in the way:
- Any new approach needs to be proven safe; these inflammation blocking medications will have to be tested over time to rule out side effects and any potential complications.
- First, these experiments were conducted on mice. And there’s a long way to go before this particular approach is deemed safe and approved for humans.
- The exact cause of tinnitus will differ from person to person; it’s difficult to know (at this time) whether all or even most tinnitus is related to inflammation of some type.
So, a pill for tinnitus might be a long way off. But it’s no longer impossible. That’s considerable hope for your tinnitus down the road. And, of course, this approach in managing tinnitus is not the only one presently 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?
If you have a persistent buzzing or ringing in your ears today, the promise of a far-off pill might provide you with hope – but not necessarily alleviation. Although we don’t have a cure for tinnitus, there are some modern treatments that can produce real results.
There are cognitive therapies that help you learn to ignore tinnitus sounds and others that employ noise cancellation strategies. Many people also get relief with hearing aids. A cure might be many years off, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with tinnitus alone or unassisted. Obtaining 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.