Woman with ringing in her ears.

You learn to adapt to life with tinnitus. In order to drown out the constant ringing, you always leave the TV on. You avoid going out for happy hour with coworkers because the loud music at the bar makes your tinnitus worse for days. You’re always going in to try new techniques and treatments. Ultimately, your tinnitus just becomes something you integrate into your day-to-day life.

The main reason is that tinnitus can’t be cured. But that could be changing. We might be getting close to an effective and lasting cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. In the meantime, hearing aids can really be helpful.

Tinnitus Has a Murky Set of Causes

Tinnitus normally manifests as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (though, tinnitus could manifest as other sounds as well) that do not have an external cause. Tinnitus is really common and millions of individuals cope with it to some degree.

Generally speaking, tinnitus is itself a symptom of an underlying condition and not a cause in and of itself. Tinnitus is essentially caused by something else. It can be difficult to narrow down the cause of tinnitus and that’s one of the reasons why a cure is so evasive. Tinnitus symptoms can manifest due to numerous reasons.

True, most individuals attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some sort, but even that relationship is unclear. There’s a connection, sure, but not all individuals who have tinnitus also have hearing loss (and vice versa).

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 caused by noise-induced hearing loss. And the results of these experiments indicated a culprit of tinnitus: inflammation.

Scans and tests done on these mice found that the parts of the brain in control of listening and hearing persistently had considerable inflammation. This suggests that some damage is taking place as a result of noise-induced hearing loss which we currently don’t comprehend because inflammation is the body’s response to injury.

But new kinds of treatment are also made available by this discovery of inflammation. Because inflammation is something we know how to manage. The symptoms of tinnitus cleared up when the mice were given drugs that impeded inflammation. Or, at least, those symptoms weren’t observable anymore.

Does This Mean There’s a Pill For Tinnitus?

If you take a long enough look, you can most likely view this research and see how, one day, there may 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 turn to all those coping mechanisms.

That’s definitely the goal, but there are numerous large hurdles in the way:

  • Any new approach needs to be proven safe; it may take some time to identify particular side effects, complications, or problems connected to these specific inflammation-blocking medicines.
  • Not everyone’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; whether all or even most cases of tinnitus are related to some sort of inflammation is still hard to know.
  • Mice were the focus of these experiments. Before this strategy is considered safe for people, there’s still a substantial amount of work to do.

So it may be a while before there’s 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 treating tinnitus is not the only one currently being explored. The cure for tinnitus gets closer and closer with every breakthrough and every bit of new knowledge.

Is There Anything You Can Do?

If you have a persistent ringing or buzzing in your ears today, the promise of a far-off pill might give you 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 designed to help you ignore the sounds linked to your tinnitus. Many people also get relief with hearing aids. You don’t have to go it alone despite the fact that a cure is likely several years away. Obtaining a treatment that works can help you spend more time doing things you love, and less time focusing on that buzzing or ringing in your ears.

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