You learn to adapt to life with tinnitus. In order to drown out the continuous ringing, you always keep the TV on. You avoid going out for happy hour with coworkers because the loud music at the bar makes your tinnitus worse for days. You’re always making appointments to try new techniques and treatments. Over time, you simply fold your tinnitus into your daily life.
Mainly, that’s because there isn’t a cure for tinnitus. But that could be changing. A study published in PLOS Biology seems to offer hope that we may be getting closer to a permanent and reliable cure for tinnitus. Until then, hearing aids can be really helpful.
Tinnitus Has a Cloudy Set of Causes
Somebody 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 individuals, tinnitus is extremely common.
Generally speaking, tinnitus is itself a symptom of an underlying problem and not a cause in and of itself. Basically, something causes tinnitus – there’s an underlying issue that creates tinnitus symptoms. It can be difficult to pin down the cause of tinnitus and that’s one reason why a cure is so evasive. Tinnitus symptoms can manifest due to numerous reasons.
Even the relationship between tinnitus and hearing loss is murky. Some individuals who have tinnitus do have hearing loss but some don’t.
A New Culprit: Inflammation
Research published in PLOS Biology detailed a study conducted by Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor of physiology at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon. Mice with noise-related 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 carried out on these mice, inflammation was seen in the areas of the brain responsible for hearing. This suggests that some injury is occurring as a consequence of noise-related hearing loss which we currently don’t comprehend because inflammation is the body’s reaction to injury.
But this discovery of inflammation also brings about the potential for a new kind of treatment. Because inflammation is something we know how to manage. The symptoms of tinnitus went away 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?
This research does seem to suggest that, in the long run, 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 turn to all those coping mechanisms.
That’s certainly the goal, but there are a number of large hurdles in the way:
- Any new approach needs to be proven safe; these inflammation blocking medicines will have to be tested over time to rule out side effects and any potential concerns.
- The precise cause of tinnitus will be distinct from one individual to another; whether all or even most instances of tinnitus are connected to some kind of inflammation is still hard to know.
- First, these experiments were conducted on mice. Before this strategy is considered safe for people, there’s still a significant amount of work to do.
So, a pill for tinnitus might be a long way off. But it’s not at all impossible. That’s significant hope for your tinnitus down the road. And various other tinnitus treatments are also being researched. The cure for tinnitus gets closer and closer with every breakthrough and every bit of new knowledge.
Is There Anything You Can Do?
If you have a relentless buzzing or ringing in your ears now, the potential of a far-off pill might provide you with hope – but not necessarily relief. Even though we don’t have a cure for tinnitus, there are some contemporary treatments that can produce real results.
Some methods include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies created to help you ignore the sounds connected to your tinnitus. Many individuals also find relief with hearing aids. A cure might be many years off, but that doesn’t mean you need to cope with tinnitus by yourself or unaided. Obtaining a treatment that is effective can help you spend more time doing what you love, and less time focusing on that buzzing or ringing in your ears.