You’re living with tinnitus and you’ve learned to adjust your life to it. In order to tune out the persistent ringing, you always leave the TV on. You avoid going out for happy hour with friends 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 integrate your tinnitus into your everyday life.
The primary reason is that tinnitus can’t be cured. But they could be getting close. We may be getting close to an effective and permanent cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. In the meantime, hearing aids can really be helpful.
Tinnitus Has a Cloudy Set of Causes
Tinnitus normally manifests as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (though, tinnitus could manifest as other sounds too) that do not have an external cause. A disorder that affects 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 a root issue that produces tinnitus symptoms. It can be hard to narrow down the cause of tinnitus and that’s one of the reasons why a cure is so elusive. There are numerous reasons why tinnitus can manifest.
Even the connection between tinnitus and hearing loss is unclear. Some individuals 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. Mice with noise-induced tinnitus were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And what she and her team discovered points to a tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
According to the tests and scans performed on these mice, inflammation was observed around the areas of the brain responsible for listening. As inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage, this finding does indicate that noise-induced hearing loss could be causing some damage we don’t really understand as of yet.
But new types of treatment are also made available by this discovery of inflammation. Because we know (generally speaking) how to deal with inflammation. The symptoms of tinnitus cleared up when the mice were given drugs that impeded inflammation. Or it became impossible to observe any symptoms, at least.
Does This Mean There’s a Pill For Tinnitus?
This research does appear to suggest that, in the long run, there may actually be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if you could just pop a pill in the morning and keep tinnitus at bay all day without needing to resort to all those coping mechanisms.
We may get there if we can tackle a few hurdles:
- Not everyone’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; whether all or even most instances of tinnitus are related to some kind of inflammation is still hard to know.
- We need to make sure any new strategy is safe; these inflammation blocking medicines will need to be tested over time to rule out side effects and any potential complications.
- Mice were the subject of these experiments. Before this strategy is considered safe for people, there’s still a substantial amount of work to do.
So it might be a while before we have a pill for tinnitus. But it’s a real possibility in the future. If you have tinnitus now, that represents a considerable increase in hope. And various other tinnitus treatments are also being researched. The cure for tinnitus gets closer and closer with every discovery and every bit of new knowledge.
Is There Anything You Can Do?
If you have a relentless ringing or buzzing in your ears today, the potential of a far-off pill might provide you with hope – but not necessarily alleviation. Although we don’t have a cure for tinnitus, there are some modern treatments that can provide real benefits.
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. You don’t have to go it alone in spite of the fact that a cure is probably several years away. 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.