You learn to adapt to living with tinnitus. You always leave the television on to help you tune out the persistent ringing. The loud music at happy hour makes your tinnitus much worse so you avoid going out with your friends. You’re always going in to try new techniques and treatments. After a while, you simply fold your tinnitus into your daily life.
Mostly, that’s because there’s no cure for tinnitus. But that could be changing. We might be getting close to an effective and lasting cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. Until that happens, hearing aids can be really helpful.
The Precise Causes of Tinnitus Are Unclear
Tinnitus normally manifests as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (though, tinnitus could present as other sounds as well) that do not have an external cause. Tinnitus is really common and millions of people cope with it to some degree.
Generally speaking, tinnitus is itself a symptom of an underlying condition and not a cause in and of itself. In other words, something causes tinnitus – there’s an underlying issue that produces tinnitus symptoms. It can be hard to pin down the cause of tinnitus and that’s one of the reasons why a cure is so elusive. There are several reasons why tinnitus can occur.
Even the connection between tinnitus and hearing loss is murky. Some individuals 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, conducted a study published in PLOS Biology. Mice who had noise-related tinnitus were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And the results of these experiments indicated a culprit of tinnitus: inflammation.
Tests and scans carried out on these mice revealed that the parts of the brain in control of listening and hearing typically had significant inflammation. This suggests that some injury is happening as a consequence of noise-related hearing loss which we currently don’t understand because inflammation is the body’s reaction to injury.
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 inhibited the observed inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus went away. Or, at least, those symptoms were no longer observable.
So is There a Magic Pill That Cures Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough view, you can most likely view this research and see how, one day, there may easily be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that, instead of investing in these numerous coping mechanisms, you can simply take a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
We may get there if we can tackle a few hurdles:
- Mice were the subject of these experiments. Before this strategy is considered safe for humans, there’s still a significant amount of work to do.
- 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 concerns.
- Not everybody’s tinnitus will have the same cause; it’s difficult to identify (at this stage) whether all or even most tinnitus is connected to inflammation of some sort.
So it might be a while before there’s a pill for tinnitus. But it’s no longer impossible. That’s considerable hope for your tinnitus down the road. And numerous other tinnitus treatments are also being researched. 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 relentless buzzing or ringing in your ears now, the promise of a far-off pill might provide you with hope – but not necessarily relief. Even though we don’t have a cure for tinnitus, there are some contemporary treatments that can produce real benefits.
Some methods include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies created to help you ignore the sounds related to your tinnitus. Many individuals also get relief with hearing aids. A cure may be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you have to cope with tinnitus alone or unaided. Obtaining a treatment that is effective can help you spend more time doing things you love, and less time thinking about that buzzing or ringing in your ears.