You learn to adapt to life with tinnitus. You always keep the TV on to help you tune out the persistent ringing. The loud music at happy hour makes your tinnitus much worse so you refrain from going out with your friends. You make appointments regularly to try new therapies and new techniques. Eventually, your tinnitus just becomes something you integrate into your daily life.
The primary reason is that tinnitus has no cure. But they could be getting close. Research published in PLOS Biology seems to give hope that we may be getting closer to a lasting and reliable cure for tinnitus. Until that happens, 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 external source. A condition that affects millions of people, tinnitus is very common.
It’s also a symptom, generally speaking, and not itself a cause. Basically, something causes tinnitus – there’s an underlying problem that produces tinnitus symptoms. It can be difficult to narrow down the cause of tinnitus and that’s one of the reasons why a cure is so elusive. Tinnitus symptoms can occur due to numerous reasons.
Even the connection between tinnitus and hearing loss is murky. 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 that had tinnitus caused by noise-induced hearing loss. And what she and her team discovered indicates a tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Scans and tests done on these mice revealed that the regions of the brain in control of listening and hearing typically had significant inflammation. As inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage, this finding does suggest that noise-related hearing loss could be creating some damage we don’t really comprehend as of yet.
But this discovery of inflammation also results in the possibility of a new type of treatment. Because inflammation is something we know how to address. The symptoms of tinnitus cleared up when the mice were given drugs that inhibited inflammation. Or it became impossible to observe any symptoms, at least.
So is There a Magic Pill That Cures Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough look, you can most likely look at 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 pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
We might get there if we can overcome a few hurdles:
- Any new approach needs to be demonstrated to be safe; it may take some time to determine specific side effects, complications, or problems related to these specific inflammation-blocking medications.
- First, these experiments were carried out on mice. Before this approach is considered safe for people, there’s still a significant amount of work to do.
- The precise cause of tinnitus will differ from person to person; whether all or even most cases of tinnitus are related to some kind of inflammation is still hard to know.
So it might be a while before there’s a pill for tinnitus. But it’s a real possibility in the future. That’s considerable hope for your tinnitus down the road. And numerous other tinnitus treatments are also being researched. Every new development, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a little bit closer.
What Can You do Now?
In the meantime, individuals with tinnitus should feel optimistic that in the future there will be a cure for tinnitus. There are modern treatments for tinnitus that can produce real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the underlying problem.
There are cognitive treatments that help you learn to ignore tinnitus sounds and others that employ noise cancellation techniques. Hearing aids often offer relief for many individuals. You don’t need to go it alone despite the fact that a cure is likely several years away. Finding a treatment that is effective can help you spend more time doing what you love, and less time thinking about that buzzing or ringing in your ears.