You’re living with tinnitus and you’ve learned to adapt your life to it. You always leave the television on to help you tune out the continuous ringing. The loud music at happy hour makes your tinnitus much worse so you refrain from going out with your friends. You make appointments routinely to try new therapies and new techniques. Ultimately, your tinnitus just becomes something you fold into your daily life.
Mostly, that’s because there isn’t a cure for tinnitus. But they could be getting close. We may be getting close to an effective and permanent cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. For now, hearing aids can really be helpful.
The Precise Causes of Tinnitus Are Not Clear
Somebody 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 incredibly common.
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 causes tinnitus symptoms. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is evasive is that these underlying causes can be difficult to pin down. Tinnitus symptoms can manifest due to numerous reasons.
True, most people attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some sort, but even that relationship is murky. Some individuals who have tinnitus do have hearing loss but some don’t.
Inflammation: a New Culprit
Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, conducted a study published in PLOS Biology. Dr. Bao carried out experiments on mice who had tinnitus triggered by noise-induced hearing loss. And the results of these experiments pointed to a culprit of tinnitus: inflammation.
According to the scans and tests performed on these mice, inflammation was discovered in the areas of the brain responsible for listening. This suggests that some injury is occurring as a result of noise-related hearing loss which we currently don’t understand because inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage.
But this knowledge of inflammation also leads to the potential for a new form of treatment. Because inflammation is something we know how to deal with. When the mice were given drugs that inhibited the observed inflammation reaction, the symptoms of tinnitus disappeared. Or, at least, those symptoms weren’t observable anymore.
Does This Mean There’s a Pill For Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough view, you can probably look at this research and see how, one day, 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.
We may get there if we can overcome a few hurdles:
- First, these experiments were carried out on mice. And there’s a long way to go before this specific approach is deemed safe and approved for people.
- 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.
- The precise cause of tinnitus will differ from one individual to another; whether all or even most instances of tinnitus are connected to some kind of inflammation is still hard to know.
So it may be a while before there’s a pill for tinnitus. But it’s no longer impossible. If you have tinnitus today, that represents a substantial increase in hope. And various other tinnitus treatments are also being researched. Every new development, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a little bit closer.
What Can You do Now?
In the meantime, individuals with tinnitus should feel optimistic that in the future there will be a cure for tinnitus. There are contemporary treatments for tinnitus that can produce real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the root problem.
There are cognitive treatments that help you learn to ignore tinnitus sounds and others that use noise cancellation techniques. Hearing aids frequently offer relief for many people. A cure might be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you need to cope with tinnitus by yourself or unassisted. Spending less time thinking about the ringing in your ears and more time doing the things you love can happen for you by getting the right treatment.