You’re living with tinnitus and you’ve learned to adapt your life to it. In order to tune out the continuous ringing, you always keep the TV on. 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 new therapies and new techniques. Over time, you simply integrate your tinnitus into your everyday life.
Mostly, that’s because there isn’t a cure for tinnitus. But they may be getting close. We might be getting close to a reliable and permanent cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. Until then, hearing aids can be really helpful.
Tinnitus Has a Cloudy Set of Causes
Tinnitus typically is experienced as a ringing or buzzing in the ear (though, tinnitus could manifest as other sounds as well) that do not have an external cause. A disorder that affects millions of people, tinnitus is incredibly common.
It’s also a symptom, broadly speaking, and not itself a cause. Tinnitus is generally caused by something else. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is evasive is that these root causes can be difficult to narrow down. There are numerous reasons why tinnitus can manifest.
True, most individuals attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some kind, but even that relationship 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 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 who had tinnitus triggered by noise-induced hearing loss. And what she and her team discovered indicates a tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
According to the tests and scans performed on these mice, inflammation was discovered in the areas of the brain responsible for listening. This suggests that some injury is taking place as a result of noise-related 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 possible by this discovery of inflammation. Because we know (generally speaking) how to manage inflammation. When the mice were given drugs that impeded the observed inflammation reaction, the symptoms of tinnitus disappeared. Or it became impossible to observe any symptoms, at least.
So is There a Magic Pill That Cures Tinnitus?
This research does seem to indicate that, eventually, there might actually be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if you could just take a pill in the morning and keep tinnitus at bay all day without needing to resort to all those coping mechanisms.
We might get there if we can overcome a few hurdles:
- Mice were the subject of these experiments. And there’s a lot to do before this specific strategy is considered safe and approved for humans.
- The exact cause of tinnitus will differ from one individual to another; whether all or even most instances of tinnitus are linked to some kind of inflammation is still difficult to identify.
- Any new approach needs to be demonstrated to be safe; these inflammation blocking medicines will need to be tested over time to rule out side effects and any potential concerns.
So, a pill for tinnitus may be a long way off. But it’s no longer impossible. If you have tinnitus now, that represents a substantial increase in hope. And numerous other tinnitus treatments are also being studied. Every new development, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a little bit closer.
What Can You do Today?
If you have a relentless buzzing or ringing in your ears today, the promise of a far-off pill might give you hope – but not necessarily relief. Although we don’t have a cure for tinnitus, there are some modern treatments that can produce real results.
There are cognitive therapies that help you learn to ignore tinnitus noises and others that utilize noise cancellation strategies. Hearing aids often offer relief for many people. You don’t need to go it alone in spite of the fact that a cure is likely several years away. Spending less time thinking about the ringing in your ears and more time doing the things you love can happen for you by getting the right treatment.