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Woman with ringing in her ears.

You’re living with tinnitus and you’ve learned to adjust your life to it. In order to tune 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 friends. You’re always going in to try new techniques and therapies. After a while, you simply fold your tinnitus into your daily life.

Mainly, that’s because there’s no cure for tinnitus. But that might be changing. We may 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 help.

The Precise Causes of Tinnitus Are Not Clear

Tinnitus usually manifests as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (though, tinnitus could manifest as other sounds as well) that do not have an objective cause. Tinnitus is quite common and millions of people deal with it on some level.

Generally speaking, tinnitus is itself a symptom of an underlying problem and not a cause in and of itself. Basically, something causes tinnitus – there’s an underlying problem that creates tinnitus symptoms. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is elusive is that these underlying causes can be difficult to pin down. Tinnitus symptoms can develop due to a number of reasons.

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

A New Culprit: Inflammation

Research published in PLOS Biology detailed a study conducted by Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor of physiology at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon. Mice with noise-related tinnitus were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And what she and her team found indicates a tinnitus culprit: inflammation.

Tests and scans carried out on these mice found that the regions of the brain responsible for listening and hearing persistently had considerable inflammation. As inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage, this finding does suggest that noise-induced hearing loss may be creating some damage we don’t fully understand as of yet.

But this discovery of inflammation also leads to 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 impeded 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 suggest that, eventually, there might actually be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that, instead of investing in these numerous coping mechanisms, you can simply pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.

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

  • Not everyone’s tinnitus will have the same cause; whether all or even most cases of tinnitus are linked to some sort of inflammation is still hard to identify.
  • We need to be certain any new strategy is safe; it might take some time to identify specific side effects, complications, or issues related to these specific inflammation-blocking medicines.
  • Mice were the subject of these experiments. Before this strategy is considered safe for humans, there’s still a significant amount of work to do.

So it may be a while before we have a pill for tinnitus. But it’s no longer impossible. If you have tinnitus now, that represents a considerable increase in hope. And numerous other tinnitus treatments are also being researched. The cure for tinnitus gets closer and closer with every development and every bit of new knowledge.

What Can You do Today?

For now, people who suffered from 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 contemporary treatments that can provide real results.

There are cognitive therapies that help you learn to ignore tinnitus sounds and others that utilize noise cancellation techniques. Hearing aids frequently provide relief for many people. You don’t need 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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References

https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3000307
https://uanews.arizona.edu/story/brain-inflammation-identified-potential-target-treat-tinnitus

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.