You learn to adapt to life with tinnitus. In order to drown out the persistent ringing, you always keep the TV on. The loud music at happy hour makes your tinnitus much worse so you refrain from going out with your coworkers. You make appointments regularly to try out new therapies and new treatments. Over time, you simply integrate your tinnitus into your everyday life.
The main reason is that tinnitus can’t be cured. But they may be getting close. We may be getting close to a reliable and lasting 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 usually is experienced as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (though, tinnitus could present as other sounds too) that do not have an objective cause. A disorder that affects millions of people, tinnitus is incredibly common.
Generally speaking, tinnitus is itself a symptom of an underlying problem and not a cause in and of itself. Tinnitus is essentially caused by something else. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is elusive is that these underlying causes can be difficult to pin down. Tinnitus symptoms can manifest due to several reasons.
Even the link between tinnitus and hearing loss is not well understood. There’s a link, sure, but not all individuals who have tinnitus also have hearing loss (and vice versa).
A New Culprit: Inflammation
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. Mice with noise-induced tinnitus were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And what she and her team found indicates a tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Tests and scans carried out on these mice revealed 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-related hearing loss which we presently don’t understand because inflammation is the body’s response to injury.
But new forms of treatment are also made possible by this discovery of inflammation. Because we know (generally speaking) how to manage inflammation. 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?
This research does seem to indicate that, in the long run, there may actually be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that, instead of investing in these numerous coping mechanisms, you can simply pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
That’s certainly the goal, but there are a number of big hurdles in the way:
- Not everyone’s tinnitus will have the same cause; it’s hard to identify (at this time) whether all or even most tinnitus is linked to inflammation of some kind.
- We need to make sure any new strategy is safe; it could take some time to identify particular side effects, complications, or issues linked to these specific inflammation-blocking medicines.
- First, these experiments were carried out 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 a genuine possibility in the future. That’s significant hope for your tinnitus down the road. And, of course, this approach in treating tinnitus is not the only one currently being researched. Every new development, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a little bit closer.
Is There Anything You Can Do?
For now, individuals 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 provide 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 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. Finding a treatment that works can help you spend more time doing what you love, and less time thinking about that buzzing or ringing in your ears.