You’re living with tinnitus and you’ve learned to adapt your life to it. In order to drown out the persistent ringing, you always leave the TV on. The loud music at happy hour makes your tinnitus a lot worse so you refrain from going out with your coworkers. You make appointments regularly to try out new therapies and new treatments. Eventually, your tinnitus just becomes something you fold into your day-to-day life.
The primary reason is that tinnitus has no cure. But they could be getting close. We might be getting close to a reliable and permanent cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. In the meantime, 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 sounds) that don’t have an external 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. Basically, something causes tinnitus – there’s a root issue that produces tinnitus symptoms. It can be hard to pin down the cause of tinnitus and that’s one reason why a cure is so evasive. There are numerous reasons why tinnitus can develop.
Even the link between tinnitus and hearing loss is murky. Some people who have tinnitus do have hearing loss but some don’t.
Inflammation: a New Culprit
Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, led a study published in PLOS Biology. Dr. Bao performed experiments on mice that had tinnitus caused by noise-induced hearing loss. And the results of these experiments pointed to a culprit of tinnitus: inflammation.
Scans and tests carried out on these mice showed that the parts of the brain responsible for listening and hearing persistently had significant inflammation. This reveals that some damage is happening as a result of noise-related hearing loss which we currently don’t comprehend because inflammation is the body’s reaction to injury.
But new kinds of treatment are also made available by this discovery of inflammation. Because inflammation is something we know how to address. When the mice were given drugs that inhibited the observed inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus went away. Or it became impossible to detect any symptoms, at least.
So is There a Magic Pill That Cures Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough view, you can probably look at this research and see how, one day, there may 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.
That’s certainly the goal, but there are several large hurdles in the way:
- First, these experiments were done on mice. And there’s a lot to do before this specific strategy is considered safe and approved for people.
- Any new approach needs to be proven safe; these inflammation blocking medications will need to be tested over time to rule out side effects and any potential concerns.
- The exact cause of tinnitus will be distinct from person to person; whether all or even most cases of tinnitus are linked to some sort of inflammation is still hard to know.
So, a pill for tinnitus might be a long way off. But it’s not at all impossible. That’s considerable hope for your tinnitus down the road. And, of course, this approach in managing tinnitus isn’t the only one currently being researched. Every new breakthrough, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a little bit closer.
What Can You do Today?
If you have a persistent buzzing or ringing in your ears today, the promise of a far-off pill might provide you with hope – but not necessarily alleviation. There are modern treatments for tinnitus that can produce genuine results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the underlying problem.
There are cognitive treatments that help you learn to ignore tinnitus noises and others that employ noise cancellation strategies. Many people also find relief with hearing aids. You don’t need to go it alone in spite of the fact that a cure is probably several years away. Spending less time worrying about the ringing in your ears and more time doing the things you love can happen for you by finding the right treatment.
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