You learn to adjust to life with tinnitus. In order to tune out the persistent ringing, you always keep 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 make appointments routinely to try out new therapies and new treatments. Ultimately, 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 may be changing. Research published in PLOS Biology seems to give hope that we could be getting closer to a lasting and reliable cure for tinnitus. Until that happens, hearing aids can be really helpful.
Tinnitus Has a Murky Set of Causes
Tinnitus typically manifests as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (though, tinnitus could manifest as other sounds too) that do not have an external cause. Tinnitus is really common and millions of individuals cope with it on some level.
Generally speaking, tinnitus is itself a symptom of an underlying problem and not a cause in and of itself. Tinnitus is essentially caused by something else. One reason why a “cure” for tinnitus is elusive is that these root causes can be difficult to pin down. There are several reasons why tinnitus can manifest.
True, most individuals 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
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. Mice with noise-induced tinnitus were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And the results of these experiments pointed to a culprit of tinnitus: inflammation.
According to the tests and scans carried out on these mice, inflammation was observed around the areas of the brain responsible for hearing. As inflammation is the body’s response to damage, this finding does suggest that noise-related hearing loss may be creating some damage we don’t really comprehend yet.
But this discovery of inflammation also brings about the possibility of a new type of treatment. Because inflammation is something we know how to manage. When the mice were given drugs that inhibited the observed inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus disappeared. Or, at least, those symptoms weren’t observable anymore.
Does This Mean There’s a Pill For Tinnitus?
This research does seem to suggest that, eventually, there may actually be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that, instead of investing in these numerous coping mechanisms, you can simply pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
We may get there if we can tackle a few hurdles:
- We need to make sure any new approach is safe; it might take some time to identify particular side effects, complications, or problems linked to these specific inflammation-blocking medicines.
- First, these experiments were done on mice. And there’s a long way to go before this specific strategy is deemed safe and approved for humans.
- The precise cause of tinnitus will differ from person to person; it’s hard to identify (at this time) whether all or even most tinnitus is related to inflammation of some kind.
So, a pill for tinnitus might be a long way off. But it’s a real possibility in the future. That’s considerable hope for your tinnitus down the road. And, of course, this strategy in treating tinnitus is not the only one currently being studied. The cure for tinnitus gets closer and closer with every breakthrough and every bit of new knowledge.
Is There Anything You Can Do?
If you have a persistent buzzing or ringing in your ears today, the potential of a far-off pill might give you hope – but not necessarily relief. There are contemporary treatments for tinnitus that can produce real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the underlying problem.
Some strategies include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies designed to help you ignore the sounds connected to your tinnitus. Many individuals also get relief with hearing aids. You don’t have to go it alone despite the fact that a cure is likely several years away. Finding a treatment that works can help you spend more time doing what you love, and less time thinking about that buzzing or ringing in your ears.