You learn to adapt to living with tinnitus. In order to tune out the continuous ringing, you always keep the TV on. The loud music at happy hour makes your tinnitus a lot worse so you avoid going out with your friends. You’re always going in to try new techniques and treatments. After a while, you simply integrate your tinnitus into your everyday life.
Mainly, that’s because there’s no cure for tinnitus. But that may be changing. We might be getting close to a reliable and permanent cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. For now, hearing aids can really help.
Tinnitus Has a Cloudy Set of Causes
Somebody who is coping with tinnitus will hear a ringing or buzzing (or other noises) that don’t have an outside source. Tinnitus is really common and millions of people cope with it on some level.
Generally speaking, tinnitus is itself a symptom of an underlying problem and not a cause in and of itself. Tinnitus is generally caused by something else. One reason why a “cure” for tinnitus is evasive is that these underlying causes can be hard to pin down. There are a number of reasons why tinnitus can occur.
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, directed a study published in PLOS Biology. Mice who had noise-related tinnitus were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And the results of these experiments pointed to a culprit of tinnitus: inflammation.
According to the scans and tests done on these mice, inflammation was discovered in the areas of the brain responsible for listening. As inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage, this finding does indicate that noise-related hearing loss might be creating some damage we don’t fully understand yet.
But this discovery of inflammation also results in the possibility of a new kind of treatment. Because inflammation is something we know how to deal with. The symptoms of tinnitus went away 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 appear to indicate that, in the long run, there may actually be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that, instead of investing in these various coping mechanisms, you can just pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
We might get there if we can overcome a few hurdles:
- Any new approach needs to be demonstrated to be safe; it might take some time to identify specific side effects, complications, or problems related to these particular inflammation-blocking medications.
- First, these experiments were done 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 hard to identify.
So it might be a while before we have a pill for tinnitus. But it’s a real possibility in the future. That’s significant hope for your tinnitus down the road. And, obviously, this strategy in managing tinnitus isn’t the only one presently being explored. 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 persistent buzzing or ringing in your ears today, the potential of a far-off pill might give you hope – but not necessarily alleviation. There are contemporary treatments for tinnitus that can provide real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the underlying issue.
There are cognitive treatments that help you learn to ignore tinnitus sounds and others that utilize noise cancellation techniques. Hearing aids frequently provide relief for many people. A cure might be many years off, but that doesn’t mean you need to deal with tinnitus alone or unaided. Spending less time thinking about the ringing in your ears and more time doing the things you love can happen for you by getting the right treatment.
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