Audiology Associates of North Florida - Tallahassee, FL

Woman with ringing in her ears.

You’re living with tinnitus and you’ve learned to adapt your life to it. In order to drown out the constant ringing, you always keep the TV on. The loud music at happy hour makes your tinnitus a lot worse so you avoid 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 day-to-day life.

The main reason is that tinnitus can’t be cured. But that might be changing. We might be getting close to a reliable and permanent cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. Until that happens, hearing aids can be really helpful.

The Exact Causes of Tinnitus Are Unclear

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

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

Even the link between tinnitus and hearing loss is unclear. Some people 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. Mice with noise-related tinnitus were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And the results of these experiments indicated a culprit of tinnitus: inflammation.

Tests and scans carried out on these mice revealed that the areas of the brain in control of listening and hearing typically had significant inflammation. This suggests that some damage is taking place as a consequence of noise-related hearing loss which we presently don’t understand because inflammation is the body’s response to damage.

But new types of treatment are also made available by this knowledge of inflammation. Because we know (generally speaking) how to handle inflammation. 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?

This research does appear to indicate that, in the long run, there might actually be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that, instead of investing in these various coping mechanisms, you can just pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.

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

  • 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 linked to inflammation of some kind.
  • First, these experiments were conducted on mice. Before this approach is considered safe for humans, there’s still a significant amount of work to do.
  • Any new approach needs to be proven safe; it could take some time to identify particular side effects, complications, or issues linked to these specific inflammation-blocking medications.

So, a pill for tinnitus might be a long way off. But it’s no longer impossible. That’s significant hope for your tinnitus down the road. And, of course, this approach in managing tinnitus isn’t the only one currently being researched. The cure for tinnitus gets closer and closer with every breakthrough and every bit of new knowledge.

What Can You do Now?

In the meantime, individuals who suffered from tinnitus should feel hopeful that in the future there will be a cure for tinnitus. There are contemporary treatments for tinnitus that can provide real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the underlying problem.

There are cognitive treatments that help you learn to ignore tinnitus sounds and others that utilize noise cancellation strategies. Many individuals also find relief with hearing aids. You don’t need to go it alone in spite of the fact that a cure is probably 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 finding 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.
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