Audiology & Hearing Care of SWFL - Bonita Springs, FL

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 keep the TV on. You refrain from going out for happy hour with coworkers because the loud music at the bar makes your tinnitus worse for days. You’re always making appointments to try new techniques and treatments. Over time, you simply integrate your tinnitus into your everyday life.

Mainly, that’s because there’s no cure for tinnitus. But they could be getting close. 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.

Tinnitus Has a Murky Set of Causes

Someone who has tinnitus will hear a buzzing or ringing (or other noises) that don’t have an outside source. A condition that impacts millions of individuals, tinnitus is extremely common.

It’s also a symptom, generally speaking, and not a cause unto itself. Tinnitus is generally caused by something else. One reason why a “cure” for tinnitus is evasive is that these root causes can be hard to pin down. Tinnitus symptoms can develop due to a number of reasons.

Even the link between tinnitus and hearing loss is unclear. Some individuals 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. Dr. Bao performed experiments on mice that had tinnitus triggered by noise-induced hearing loss. And what she and her team found points to a tinnitus culprit: inflammation.

According to the scans and tests done on these mice, inflammation was observed around the areas of the brain responsible for hearing. This reveals that some injury is occurring as a result of noise-related hearing loss which we currently don’t comprehend because inflammation is the body’s response to damage.

But new kinds of treatment are also made possible by this knowledge of inflammation. 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.

Does This Mean There’s a Pill For Tinnitus?

If you take a long enough view, you can probably view this research and see how, eventually, there could easily be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if you could just take a pill in the morning and keep tinnitus at bay all day without having to turn to all those coping mechanisms.

We might get there if we can tackle a few hurdles:

  • We need to be certain any new approach is safe; it could take some time to determine particular side effects, complications, or problems linked to these particular inflammation-blocking medications.
  • The exact cause of tinnitus will differ from one individual to another; it’s hard to identify (at this time) whether all or even most tinnitus is connected to inflammation of some type.
  • Mice were the focus of these experiments. Before this approach is considered safe for humans, there’s still a significant amount of work to do.

So it might be a while before there’s a pill for tinnitus. But it’s a real possibility in the future. That’s considerable hope for your tinnitus down the road. And, of course, this strategy in managing 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.

What Can You do Today?

If you have a relentless buzzing or ringing in your ears today, the promise of a far-off pill might give you 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 use noise cancellation strategies. Hearing aids often offer relief for many people. You don’t need to go it alone in spite of the fact that a cure is likely several years away. 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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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.