You’re living with tinnitus and you’ve learned to adjust your life to it. In order to drown out the constant ringing, you always leave the TV on. You avoid going out for happy hour with coworkers because the loud music at the bar makes your tinnitus worse for days. You’re always making appointments to try new techniques and therapies. Over time, you simply fold your tinnitus into your everyday life.
The main reason is that tinnitus has no cure. But they could be getting close. We might be getting close to an effective and permanent cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. Until that happens, hearing aids can be really helpful.
Tinnitus Has a Cloudy Set of Causes
Someone who is coping with tinnitus will hear a ringing or buzzing (or other noises) that don’t have an external source. A disorder that impacts millions of individuals, tinnitus is incredibly common.
Generally speaking, tinnitus is itself a symptom of an underlying problem and not a cause in and of itself. Tinnitus is generally caused by something else. It can be difficult to narrow down the cause of tinnitus and that’s one of the reasons why a cure is so evasive. There are several reasons why tinnitus can occur.
Even the relationship between tinnitus and hearing loss is not well understood. There’s a link, sure, but not all individuals who have tinnitus also have hearing loss (and vice versa).
Inflammation: a New Culprit
Research published in PLOS Biology outlined a study led by Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor of physiology at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon. Dr. Bao performed experiments on mice who had tinnitus caused by noise-induced hearing loss. And the results of these experiments indicated a culprit of tinnitus: inflammation.
Tests and scans carried out on these mice revealed that the regions of the brain in control of listening and hearing consistently had considerable inflammation. This indicates that some injury is taking place as a result of noise-induced hearing loss which we currently don’t comprehend because inflammation is the body’s reaction to injury.
But new forms of treatment are also made possible by this knowledge of inflammation. Because we know (broadly speaking) how to handle inflammation. When the mice were given drugs that inhibited the observed inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus went away. 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, eventually, there might actually be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that, instead of investing in these numerous coping mechanisms, you can just take a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
That’s certainly the goal, but there are a number of big hurdles in the way:
- Any new approach needs to be proven safe; it could take some time to identify specific side effects, complications, or issues connected to these particular inflammation-blocking medicines.
- Mice were the subject of these experiments. And there’s a lot to do before this particular approach is considered safe and approved for people.
- The exact 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 connected to inflammation of some sort.
So it might be a while before we have a pill for tinnitus. But it’s a genuine possibility in the future. That’s significant hope for your tinnitus down the road. And various other tinnitus treatments are also being studied. Every new discovery, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a little bit closer.
What Can You do Today?
In the meantime, people with tinnitus should feel hopeful that in the future there will be a cure for tinnitus. There are contemporary treatments for tinnitus that can provide genuine results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the root issue.
Some approaches include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies designed to help you ignore the sounds related to your tinnitus. Hearing aids frequently provide relief for many individuals. You don’t need to go it alone despite the fact that a cure is probably several years away. Finding 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.