Woman with ringing in her ears.

You’re living with tinnitus and you’ve learned to adjust your life to it. You always keep the TV on to help you tune out the continuous ringing. The loud music at happy hour makes your tinnitus much worse so you refrain from going out with your coworkers. You’re always going in to try new techniques and therapies. Ultimately, your tinnitus just becomes something you integrate into your daily life.

Mostly, that’s because there isn’t a cure for tinnitus. But they could be getting close. A study published in PLOS Biology seems to give hope that we may be getting closer to a lasting and reliable cure for tinnitus. For now, hearing aids can really be helpful.

Tinnitus Has a Murky Set of Causes

Somebody who is coping with tinnitus will hear a buzzing or ringing (or other noises) that don’t have an outside source. Tinnitus is quite common and millions of individuals deal with it on some level.

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

True, most individuals attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some type, 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

Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, directed a study published in PLOS Biology. Mice with noise-induced tinnitus were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And the results of these experiments pointed to a culprit of tinnitus: inflammation.

Scans and tests carried out on these mice showed that the regions of the brain in control of listening and hearing persistently had significant inflammation. As inflammation is the body’s response to damage, this finding does indicate that noise-induced hearing loss may be creating some damage we don’t completely comprehend as yet.

But new forms 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, at least, those symptoms weren’t observable anymore.

So is There a Magic Pill That Cures Tinnitus?

This research does seem to suggest that, eventually, there might actually be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that, instead of investing in these various coping mechanisms, you can simply take a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.

We may get there if we can overcome a few hurdles:

  • We need to make sure any new strategy is safe; it may take some time to identify particular side effects, complications, or issues related to these specific inflammation-blocking medicines.
  • The exact cause of tinnitus will be distinct from one individual to another; whether all or even most instances of tinnitus are related to some kind of inflammation is still hard to know.
  • First, these experiments were conducted on mice. And there’s a long way to go before this specific approach is considered safe and approved for people.

So it might be a while before we have a pill for tinnitus. But it’s not at all impossible. That’s significant hope for your tinnitus down the road. And several other tinnitus treatments are also being studied. The cure for tinnitus gets closer and closer with every development and every bit of new knowledge.

What Can You do Now?

For now, people with tinnitus should feel optimistic 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 benefits.

Some strategies include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies created to help you ignore the sounds linked to your tinnitus. Hearing aids frequently offer relief for many people. You don’t have to go it alone despite 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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