You’re living with tinnitus and you’ve learned to adjust your life to it. In order to drown out the continuous ringing, you always leave the TV on. The loud music at happy hour makes your tinnitus much worse so you avoid going out with your friends. You’re always making appointments to try new techniques and treatments. Ultimately, your tinnitus just becomes something you integrate into your day-to-day life.
The main reason is that tinnitus can’t be cured. But that might be changing. We might be getting close to a reliable and permanent cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. Until that happens, hearing aids can be really helpful.
Tinnitus Has a Murky Set of Causes
Someone who has tinnitus will hear a buzzing or ringing (or other sounds) that don’t have an external source. Tinnitus is really common and millions of individuals deal with it on some level.
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 issue that creates tinnitus symptoms. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is elusive is that these underlying causes can be hard to pin down. Tinnitus symptoms can occur due to numerous reasons.
Even the link between tinnitus and hearing loss is murky. Some individuals who have tinnitus do have hearing loss but some don’t.
Inflammation: a New Culprit
Research published in PLOS Biology outlined a study conducted by Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor of physiology at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon. Dr. Bao carried out experiments on mice who had tinnitus caused by noise-induced hearing loss. And the results of these experiments indicated a culprit of tinnitus: inflammation.
Scans and tests carried out on these mice revealed that the areas of the brain responsible for listening and hearing consistently had significant inflammation. As inflammation is the body’s response to damage, this finding does indicate that noise-related hearing loss could be creating some damage we don’t fully comprehend as of yet.
But this knowledge of inflammation also brings about the possibility of a new form of treatment. Because we know (generally speaking) how to deal with inflammation. When the mice were given drugs that impeded the observed inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus disappeared. Or it became impossible to observe any symptoms, at least.
Does This Mean There’s a Pill For Tinnitus?
This research does appear to indicate 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 take a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
That’s definitely the goal, but there are numerous large hurdles in the way:
- Not everybody’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; whether all or even most instances of tinnitus are connected to some kind of inflammation is still hard to know.
- We need to be sure any new strategy is safe; it may take some time to determine particular side effects, complications, or problems related to these specific inflammation-blocking medications.
- Mice were the subject of these experiments. And there’s a long way to go before this specific strategy is deemed safe and approved for people.
So, a pill for tinnitus might be a long way off. But it’s a real possibility in the future. If you have tinnitus now, that represents a substantial increase in hope. And, of course, this strategy in managing tinnitus is not the only one presently 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?
In the meantime, individuals who suffered from tinnitus should feel optimistic that in the future there will be a cure for tinnitus. There are modern treatments for tinnitus that can produce genuine results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the root issue.
Some strategies include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies designed to help you ignore the sounds linked to your tinnitus. Hearing aids often offer relief for many individuals. You don’t need to go it alone despite the fact that a cure is likely several years away. Spending less time worrying about the ringing in your ears and more time doing the things you love can happen for you by finding the right treatment.