Woman with ringing in her ears.

You’re living with tinnitus and you’ve learned to adapt your life to it. You always leave the television on to help you tune out the continuous ringing. You refrain from going out for happy hour with coworkers because the loud music at the bar makes your tinnitus worse for days. You make appointments regularly to try out new therapies and new techniques. Over time, you simply integrate your tinnitus into your everyday life.

Mainly, that’s because there’s no cure for tinnitus. But they may be getting close. We might be getting close to an effective and lasting cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. For now, hearing aids can really be helpful.

The Specific Causes of Tinnitus Are Unclear

Someone who is coping with tinnitus will hear a ringing or buzzing (or other sounds) that don’t have an outside source. A disorder that affects millions of individuals, tinnitus is extremely common.

It’s also a symptom, generally speaking, and not itself a cause. Tinnitus is essentially caused by something else. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is elusive is that these underlying causes can be difficult to narrow down. There are numerous reasons why tinnitus can develop.

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

Research published in PLOS Biology outlined a study led by Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor of physiology at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon. Mice who had noise-induced tinnitus were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And the results of these experiments indicated a culprit of tinnitus: inflammation.

Tests and scans done on these mice found that the regions of the brain in control of listening and hearing persistently had significant inflammation. This suggests that some damage is happening as a result of noise-induced hearing loss which we presently don’t understand because inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage.

But new types of treatment are also made possible by this discovery of inflammation. Because inflammation is something we know how to manage. When the mice were given drugs that impeded the observed inflammation reaction, the symptoms of tinnitus disappeared. Or it became impossible to detect any symptoms, at least.

Does This Mean There’s a Pill For Tinnitus?

This research does appear to suggest that, eventually, there may actually be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if you could just take 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 a number of large hurdles in the way:

  • We need to be certain any new approach is safe; it might take some time to identify specific side effects, complications, or problems related to these particular inflammation-blocking medicines.
  • Not everybody’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; whether all or even most cases of tinnitus are connected to some sort of inflammation is still difficult to identify.
  • Mice were the focus of these experiments. And there’s a lot to do before this particular approach is considered safe and approved for humans.

So it may be a while before we have a pill for tinnitus. But it’s no longer impossible. That’s significant hope for your tinnitus down the road. And, of course, this approach in treating tinnitus is not the only one presently 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?

For now, people with tinnitus should feel hopeful that in the future there will be a cure for tinnitus. Even though we don’t have a cure for tinnitus, there are some modern treatments that can produce real results.

There are cognitive treatments that help you learn to ignore tinnitus sounds and others that utilize noise cancellation strategies. Many individuals also get relief with hearing aids. A cure could be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you have to cope with tinnitus by yourself or unassisted. Finding a treatment that is effective can help you spend more time doing what you love, and less time thinking about that buzzing or ringing in your ears.

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