You learn to adapt to living with tinnitus. You always keep the television on to help you tune out the constant ringing. The loud music at happy hour makes your tinnitus a lot worse so you refrain from going out with your friends. You’re always going in to try new techniques and therapies. Ultimately, your tinnitus just becomes something you fold into your day-to-day life.
Mostly, that’s because there’s no cure for tinnitus. But that might be changing. A study published in PLOS Biology appears to give hope that we may be getting closer to a lasting and reliable cure for tinnitus. For now, hearing aids can really be helpful.
The Exact Causes of Tinnitus Are Unclear
Someone who has tinnitus will hear a ringing or buzzing (or other noises) that don’t have an external source. Tinnitus is quite common and millions of people cope with it on some level.
It’s also a symptom, generally speaking, and not itself a cause. Tinnitus is generally caused by something else. It can be difficult to pin down the cause of tinnitus and that’s one reason why a cure is so elusive. There are numerous reasons why tinnitus can manifest.
True, most people attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some sort, but even that relationship is unclear. Some people 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, led a study published in PLOS Biology. Dr. Bao carried out experiments on mice that had tinnitus triggered by noise-induced hearing loss. And what she and her team found indicates a tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
According to the tests and scans performed on these mice, inflammation was seen around the areas of the brain responsible for listening. This indicates that some damage is taking place as a consequence of noise-induced hearing loss which we presently don’t comprehend because inflammation is the body’s response to damage.
But this discovery of inflammation also results in the possibility of a new kind of treatment. Because we know (generally speaking) how to manage inflammation. The symptoms of tinnitus went away when the mice were given drugs that inhibited inflammation. Or it became impossible to detect any symptoms, at least.
Does This Mean There’s a Pill For Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough look, you can probably look at this research and see how, eventually, there might easily 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.
That’s definitely the goal, but there are numerous big hurdles in the way:
- First, these experiments were conducted on mice. Before this approach is considered safe for people, there’s still a substantial amount of work to do.
- Not everybody’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 difficult to identify.
- Any new approach needs to be demonstrated to be safe; these inflammation blocking medications will have to be tested over time to rule out side effects and any potential complications.
So it may be a while before there’s a pill for tinnitus. But it’s a genuine possibility in the future. That’s considerable hope for your tinnitus down the road. And various other tinnitus treatments are also being studied. The cure for tinnitus gets closer and closer with every development and every bit of new knowledge.
Is There Anything You Can Do?
If you have a relentless ringing or buzzing in your ears now, the promise of a far-off pill may give you hope – but not necessarily relief. Even though we don’t have a cure for tinnitus, there are some modern treatments that can produce real benefits.
Some approaches include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies designed to help you ignore the sounds related to your tinnitus. Many individuals also get relief with hearing aids. You don’t need to go it alone despite the fact that a cure is likely several years away. Finding a treatment that is effective can help you spend more time doing things you love, and less time thinking about that buzzing or ringing in your ears.
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