You learn to adjust to living with tinnitus. You always leave the TV on to help you tune out the persistent 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 make appointments regularly to try out new therapies and new treatments. Over time, you simply fold your tinnitus into your everyday life.
The primary reason is that tinnitus can’t be cured. But that could be changing. A study published in PLOS Biology appears to give hope that we could be getting closer to a lasting and effective cure for tinnitus. For now, hearing aids can really be helpful.
Tinnitus Has a Cloudy Set of Causes
Someone who has tinnitus will hear a buzzing or ringing (or other sounds) that don’t have an outside source. A disorder that impacts millions of individuals, tinnitus is incredibly common.
It’s also a symptom, generally speaking, and not a cause unto itself. Tinnitus is generally caused by something else. It can be hard to pin down the cause of tinnitus and that’s one of the reasons why a cure is so elusive. There are a number of reasons why tinnitus can occur.
Even the relationship between tinnitus and hearing loss is murky. There’s a link, sure, but not all people who have tinnitus also have hearing loss (and vice versa).
Inflammation: a New Culprit
Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, directed a study published in PLOS Biology. Dr. Bao performed experiments on mice who had tinnitus triggered by noise-induced hearing loss. And the results of these experiments indicated a culprit of tinnitus: inflammation.
According to the tests and scans carried out on these mice, inflammation was seen in the areas of the brain responsible for listening. As inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage, this finding does suggest that noise-induced hearing loss could be causing some damage we don’t really comprehend as of yet.
But this discovery of inflammation also leads to the possibility of a new form of treatment. Because we know (broadly speaking) how to manage inflammation. The symptoms of tinnitus went away when the mice were given drugs that impeded inflammation. Or, at least, those symptoms were no longer observable.
Does This Mean There’s a Pill For Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough view, you can most likely look at this research and see how, eventually, there might easily be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that, instead of investing in these numerous coping mechanisms, you can simply take a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
We may get there if we can overcome a few hurdles:
- Not everyone’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; whether all or even most cases of tinnitus are related to some kind of inflammation is still hard to identify.
- Any new approach needs to be demonstrated to be safe; it might take some time to identify particular side effects, complications, or problems linked to these particular inflammation-blocking medicines.
- Mice were the subject of these experiments. And there’s a long way to go before this specific strategy is deemed safe and approved for people.
So it may be a while before we have a pill for tinnitus. But it’s a real possibility in the future. That’s considerable hope for your tinnitus down the road. And, of course, this strategy in managing tinnitus isn’t the only one presently being explored. The cure for tinnitus gets closer and closer with every discovery and every bit of new knowledge.
Is There Anything You Can Do?
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 root issue.
Some approaches include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies designed to help you ignore the sounds linked to your tinnitus. Many people also find relief with hearing aids. A cure could be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you have to cope with tinnitus alone or unassisted. Finding a treatment that works can help you spend more time doing what you love, and less time focusing on that buzzing or ringing in your ears.