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. The loud music at happy hour makes your tinnitus much worse so you avoid going out with your friends. You make appointments regularly to try new therapies and new treatments. Ultimately, your tinnitus just becomes something you fold into your day-to-day life.
Mostly, that’s because there’s no cure for tinnitus. But that may be changing. A study published in PLOS Biology seems to give hope that we could be getting closer to a permanent and reliable cure for tinnitus. For now, hearing aids can really help.
The Exact Causes of Tinnitus Are Unclear
Someone who is coping with tinnitus will hear a buzzing or ringing (or other noises) that don’t have an external source. A disorder 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. In other words, something causes tinnitus – there’s an underlying issue that produces tinnitus symptoms. It can be hard to pin down the cause of tinnitus and that’s one reason why a cure is so elusive. There are numerous reasons why tinnitus can develop.
Even the relationship between tinnitus and hearing loss is unclear. There’s a connection, sure, but not all people who have tinnitus also have hearing loss (and vice versa).
A New Culprit: Inflammation
Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, conducted a study published in PLOS Biology. Mice with noise-related tinnitus were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And the results of these experiments indicated a culprit of tinnitus: inflammation.
Tests and scans done on these mice showed that the regions of the brain in control of listening and hearing persistently had considerable inflammation. This reveals that some injury is taking place as a consequence of noise-induced hearing loss which we presently don’t understand because inflammation is the body’s response to damage.
But new types of treatment are also made available by this knowledge of inflammation. Because we know (generally speaking) how to handle inflammation. The symptoms of tinnitus cleared up when the mice were given drugs that impeded inflammation. Or it became impossible to detect any symptoms, at least.
Does This Mean There’s a Pill For Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough view, you can most likely view this research and see how, one day, there may easily be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that, rather than investing in these various 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:
- Not everybody’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; it’s difficult to identify (at this time) whether all or even most tinnitus is connected to inflammation of some sort.
- We need to make sure any new approach is safe; it might take some time to identify particular side effects, complications, or problems related to these particular inflammation-blocking medicines.
- Mice were the focus of these experiments. Before this strategy is considered safe for people, there’s still a significant amount of work to do.
So it may be a while before we have a pill for tinnitus. But it’s no longer impossible. That’s considerable 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 discovery and every bit of new knowledge.
Is There Anything You Can Do?
For now, individuals with tinnitus should feel hopeful 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 designed to help you ignore the sounds linked to your tinnitus. Many individuals also get relief with hearing aids. A cure could be many years off, but that doesn’t mean you need to cope with tinnitus by yourself or unaided. Spending less time thinking about the ringing in your ears and more time doing the things you love can happen for you by finding the right treatment.