You’re living with tinnitus and you’ve learned to adapt your life to it. You always leave the TV on to help you tune out the constant ringing. The loud music at happy hour makes your tinnitus a lot worse so you avoid going out with your coworkers. You make appointments regularly to try out new therapies and new treatments. Ultimately, your tinnitus just becomes something you fold into your day-to-day life.
The main reason is that tinnitus has no cure. But that might be changing. A study published in PLOS Biology seems to offer hope that we may be getting closer to a lasting and reliable cure for tinnitus. In the meantime, hearing aids can really be helpful.
Tinnitus Has a Cloudy Set of Causes
Somebody who has tinnitus will hear a buzzing or ringing (or other noises) that don’t have an outside source. Tinnitus is really common and millions of people cope with it to some degree.
It’s also a symptom, broadly speaking, and not a cause unto itself. Tinnitus is essentially caused by something else. It can be hard to pin down the cause of tinnitus and that’s one reason why a cure is so elusive. There are a number of reasons why tinnitus can occur.
Even the link between tinnitus and hearing loss is unclear. Some people who have tinnitus do have hearing loss but some don’t.
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 carried out experiments on mice who had tinnitus caused by noise-induced hearing loss. And what she and her team found indicates a tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
According to the scans and tests carried out on these mice, inflammation was seen around the areas of the brain responsible for listening. This indicates that some damage is taking place as a result of noise-induced hearing loss which we currently don’t understand because inflammation is the body’s response to injury.
But this knowledge of inflammation also brings about the possibility of a new type of treatment. Because we know (generally speaking) how to deal with inflammation. The symptoms of tinnitus went away when the mice were given drugs that inhibited inflammation. Or it became impossible to detect any symptoms, at least.
So is There a Magic Pill That Cures Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough look, you can most likely view this research and see how, eventually, there may easily 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 numerous huge hurdles in the way:
- Not everybody’s tinnitus will have the same cause; whether all or even most cases of tinnitus are related to some sort of inflammation is still difficult to know.
- Mice were the focus of these experiments. And there’s a long way to go before this specific approach is considered safe and approved for people.
- We need to be certain any new approach is safe; it may take some time to identify particular side effects, complications, or problems related to these specific inflammation-blocking medications.
So it might be a while before we have a pill for tinnitus. But it’s no longer impossible. If you have tinnitus now, that represents a substantial increase in hope. And, of course, this strategy in treating tinnitus isn’t the only one currently being explored. The cure for tinnitus gets closer and closer with every discovery and every bit of new knowledge.
What Can You do Today?
In the meantime, individuals with tinnitus should feel hopeful that in the future there will be a cure for tinnitus. Although we don’t have a cure for tinnitus, there are some modern treatments that can provide real benefits.
Some approaches include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies created to help you ignore the sounds connected to your tinnitus. Many people also get relief with hearing aids. A cure might be many years off, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with tinnitus by yourself or unassisted. Finding a treatment that works can help you spend more time doing what you love, and less time focusing on that buzzing or ringing in your ears.