You’re living with tinnitus and you’ve learned to adapt your life to it. You always keep the TV on to help you tune out the continuous ringing. You avoid going out for happy hour with friends 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 integrate your tinnitus into your everyday life.
Mainly, that’s because there isn’t a cure for tinnitus. But that could be changing. We may be getting close to a reliable and lasting cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. Until then, hearing aids can be really helpful.
The Precise Causes of Tinnitus Are Unclear
Somebody who has tinnitus will hear a ringing or buzzing (or other noises) that don’t have an outside source. A condition that impacts millions of individuals, tinnitus is incredibly common.
It’s also a symptom, broadly speaking, and not a cause unto itself. Tinnitus is essentially caused by something else. 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 develop due to several reasons.
True, most people attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some sort, but even that relationship 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 directed by Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor of physiology at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon. Mice who had 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 scans and tests done on these mice, inflammation was seen around the areas of the brain responsible for hearing. As inflammation is the body’s response to damage, this finding does indicate that noise-related hearing loss may be causing some damage we don’t completely understand as of yet.
But this discovery of inflammation also results in the potential for a new type of treatment. Because inflammation is something we know how to deal with. The symptoms of tinnitus went away when the mice were given drugs that impeded inflammation. Or, at least, those symptoms weren’t observable anymore.
Does This Mean There’s a Pill For Tinnitus?
This research does appear to indicate that, eventually, there may actually be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if you could just pop a pill in the morning and keep tinnitus at bay all day without needing to turn to all those coping mechanisms.
We might get there if we can overcome a few hurdles:
- 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.
- Any new approach needs to be proven safe; it might take some time to determine specific side effects, complications, or issues related to these particular inflammation-blocking medications.
- Not everybody’s tinnitus will have the same cause; it’s hard to identify (at this point) whether all or even most tinnitus is connected to inflammation of some kind.
So it may be a while before there’s a pill for tinnitus. But it’s not at all impossible. That’s significant hope for your tinnitus down the road. And several other tinnitus treatments are also being researched. Every new discovery, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a little bit closer.
Is There Anything You Can Do?
For now, 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 provide genuine results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the root problem.
Some approaches include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies created to help you ignore the sounds related to your tinnitus. Hearing aids often provide relief for many people. A cure might be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with tinnitus by yourself or unaided. 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.