You learn to adjust to living with tinnitus. You always keep the television on to help you tune out the continuous ringing. You refrain from going out for happy hour with coworkers 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. Eventually, your tinnitus just becomes something you integrate into your daily life.
Mainly, that’s because there’s no cure for tinnitus. But they may be getting close. We may be getting close to an effective and permanent cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. In the meantime, hearing aids can really help.
Tinnitus Has a Murky Set of Causes
Tinnitus normally is experienced as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (though, tinnitus could present as other sounds too) that do not have an external cause. A condition that impacts millions of people, tinnitus is incredibly common.
Generally speaking, tinnitus is itself a symptom of an underlying condition and not a cause in and of itself. Tinnitus is generally caused by something else. One reason why a “cure” for tinnitus is evasive is that these root causes can be hard to pin down. Tinnitus symptoms can manifest due to numerous reasons.
True, most people attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some kind, but even that relationship is unclear. Some individuals who have tinnitus do have hearing loss but some don’t.
A New Culprit: Inflammation
Research published in PLOS Biology detailed 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 that had tinnitus caused by noise-induced hearing loss. And what she and her team discovered indicates a tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
According to the tests and scans done on these mice, inflammation was observed in the areas of the brain responsible for listening. As inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage, this finding does suggest that noise-induced hearing loss might be causing some damage we don’t fully understand as of yet.
But new types of treatment are also made available by this discovery of inflammation. Because we know (broadly speaking) how to manage inflammation. The symptoms of tinnitus went away when the mice were given drugs that inhibited inflammation. Or, at least, those symptoms were no longer observable.
Does This Mean There’s a Pill For Tinnitus?
This research does appear to suggest that, eventually, there may actually be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that, rather than investing in these various coping mechanisms, you can just take a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
That’s definitely the goal, but there are several big hurdles in the way:
- First, these experiments were conducted on mice. And there’s a long way to go before this particular approach is considered safe and approved for people.
- We need to make sure any new strategy is safe; it may take some time to identify specific side effects, complications, or issues connected to these particular inflammation-blocking medications.
- The exact cause of tinnitus will differ from person to person; whether all or even most cases of tinnitus are linked to some kind of inflammation is still difficult to identify.
So, a pill for tinnitus might be a long way off. But it’s a genuine possibility in the future. That’s significant hope for your tinnitus down the road. And several other tinnitus treatments are also being researched. The cure for tinnitus gets closer and closer with every development and every bit of new knowledge.
What Can You do Today?
If you have a persistent ringing or buzzing in your ears now, the promise of a far-off pill might give you hope – but not necessarily relief. There are contemporary treatments for tinnitus that can provide real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the root issue.
There are cognitive treatments that help you learn to ignore tinnitus sounds and others that use noise cancellation techniques. Many individuals also find relief with hearing aids. A cure may be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with tinnitus by yourself or unassisted. Spending less time worrying about the ringing in your ears and more time doing the things you love can happen for you by getting the right treatment.