You’re living with tinnitus and you’ve learned to adapt your life to it. In order to tune out the persistent ringing, you always leave the TV on. You refrain from 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. Eventually, your tinnitus just becomes something you integrate into your day-to-day life.
Mainly, that’s because there isn’t a cure for tinnitus. But that might be changing. We may be getting close to a reliable and permanent cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. Until then, hearing aids can be really helpful.
The Specific Causes of Tinnitus Are Not Clear
Someone who is coping with tinnitus will hear a ringing or buzzing (or other sounds) that don’t have an external source. A condition that affects millions of individuals, 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 an underlying problem that causes tinnitus symptoms. It can be difficult to narrow down the cause of tinnitus and that’s one reason why a cure is so elusive. There are several reasons why tinnitus can manifest.
True, most people attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some type, but even that relationship 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, directed a study published in PLOS Biology. 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.
Tests and scans done on these mice found that the regions of the brain responsible for listening and hearing persistently had considerable inflammation. As inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage, this finding does indicate that noise-induced hearing loss might be creating some damage we don’t really comprehend as of yet.
But this knowledge of inflammation also results in the potential for a new form of treatment. Because inflammation is something we know how to manage. The symptoms of tinnitus cleared up when the mice were given drugs that impeded inflammation. Or, at least, those symptoms weren’t observable anymore.
So is There a Magic Pill That Cures Tinnitus?
This research does appear to suggest that, in the long run, there might actually be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that, rather than investing in these numerous coping mechanisms, you can simply pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
That’s certainly the goal, but there are numerous huge hurdles in the way:
- Any new approach needs to be demonstrated to be safe; it could take some time to identify specific side effects, complications, or issues linked to these particular inflammation-blocking medications.
- Mice were the focus of these experiments. And there’s a lot to do before this particular approach is considered safe and approved for humans.
- The precise cause of tinnitus will be distinct from one individual to another; it’s difficult to identify (at this time) whether all or even most tinnitus is linked to inflammation of some type.
So it may be a while before there’s a pill for tinnitus. But it’s a genuine possibility in the future. If you have tinnitus now, that represents a substantial increase in hope. And, of course, this strategy in treating 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 chronic buzzing or ringing in your ears now, the potential of a far-off pill may provide you with hope – but not necessarily relief. There are modern treatments for tinnitus that can produce genuine results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the underlying problem.
Some approaches include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies created to help you ignore the sounds linked to your tinnitus. Many individuals also find relief with hearing aids. You don’t need to go it alone despite the fact that a cure is likely several years away. Obtaining a treatment that works can help you spend more time doing what you love, and less time focusing on that buzzing or ringing in your ears.