You’re living with tinnitus and you’ve learned to adjust your life to it. You always keep the TV on to help you tune out the continuous ringing. You refrain from 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 therapies. Ultimately, your tinnitus just becomes something you integrate into your daily life.
The primary reason is that tinnitus can’t be cured. But they could be getting close. Research published in PLOS Biology appears to offer hope that we may be getting closer to a permanent and reliable cure for tinnitus. Until that happens, hearing aids can be really helpful.
The Precise Causes of Tinnitus Are Not Clear
Somebody who has tinnitus will hear a ringing or buzzing (or other sounds) that don’t have an outside source. A condition that impacts millions of people, tinnitus is extremely common.
It’s also a symptom, generally speaking, and not itself a cause. Tinnitus is essentially caused by something else. It can be hard to narrow down the cause of tinnitus and that’s one reason why a cure is so elusive. There are numerous reasons why tinnitus can occur.
Even the link between tinnitus and hearing loss is not well understood. Some individuals who have tinnitus do have hearing loss but some don’t.
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. Dr. Bao carried out experiments on mice who had tinnitus triggered by noise-induced hearing loss. And the results of these experiments indicated a culprit of tinnitus: inflammation.
Scans and tests carried out on these mice revealed that the regions of the brain in control of listening and hearing typically had significant inflammation. This suggests that some injury is taking place as a consequence of noise-induced hearing loss which we presently don’t comprehend because inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage.
But new kinds of treatment are also made available by this discovery of inflammation. Because inflammation is something we know how to deal with. When the mice were given drugs that impeded the observed inflammation reaction, the symptoms of tinnitus disappeared. Or it became impossible to detect any symptoms, at least.
Does This Mean There’s a Pill For Tinnitus?
This research does appear to suggest that, eventually, there may actually be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that, instead of investing in these various coping mechanisms, you can simply pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
That’s definitely the goal, but there are several large hurdles in the way:
- We need to be certain any new strategy is safe; it could take some time to determine specific side effects, complications, or problems connected to these specific inflammation-blocking medicines.
- First, these experiments were done on mice. Before this approach is considered safe for humans, there’s still a substantial amount of work to do.
- Not everyone’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; it’s difficult to know (at this point) whether all or even most tinnitus is linked to inflammation of some kind.
So, a pill for tinnitus might be a long way off. But it’s no longer impossible. If you have tinnitus today, that represents a considerable increase in hope. And numerous 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?
In the meantime, people who suffered from tinnitus should feel optimistic that in the future there will be a cure for tinnitus. There are contemporary treatments for tinnitus that can produce real 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 connected to your tinnitus. Many individuals also find relief with hearing aids. A cure might be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you need to deal with tinnitus alone 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.