Woman with ringing in her ears.

You learn to adjust to living with tinnitus. In order to drown out the persistent ringing, you always leave the TV on. The loud music at happy hour makes your tinnitus a lot worse so you avoid going out with your friends. You make appointments regularly to try out new therapies and new techniques. Over time, you simply integrate your tinnitus into your daily life.

The main reason is that tinnitus has no cure. But they may be getting close. Research published in PLOS Biology appears to offer hope that we could be getting closer to a permanent and effective cure for tinnitus. In the meantime, hearing aids can really help.

The Precise Causes of Tinnitus Are Not Clear

Tinnitus normally manifests as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (though, tinnitus could manifest as other sounds too) that do not have an objective cause. Tinnitus is very 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. Tinnitus is essentially caused by something else. One reason why a “cure” for tinnitus is elusive is that these root causes can be difficult to pin down. There are a number of reasons why tinnitus can manifest.

Even the relationship between tinnitus and hearing loss is unclear. Some individuals who have tinnitus do have hearing loss but some don’t.

Inflammation: a New Culprit

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

According to the scans and tests carried out on these mice, inflammation was seen in the areas of the brain responsible for listening. As inflammation is the body’s response to damage, this finding does indicate that noise-induced hearing loss may be causing some damage we don’t completely comprehend yet.

But this discovery of inflammation also brings about the potential for a new type 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, at least, those symptoms weren’t observable anymore.

Does This Mean There’s a Pill For Tinnitus?

If you take a long enough view, you can most likely view this research and see how, one day, there could easily be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that, rather than investing in these various coping mechanisms, you can simply pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.

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

  • Mice were the subject of these experiments. Before this approach is considered safe for people, there’s still a substantial amount of work to do.
  • Any new approach needs to be demonstrated to be safe; it could take some time to identify specific side effects, complications, or problems linked to these particular inflammation-blocking medications.
  • Not everybody’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; whether all or even most cases of tinnitus are connected to some kind of inflammation is still hard to know.

So, a pill for tinnitus may be a long way off. But it’s no longer impossible. If you have tinnitus now, that represents a significant increase in hope. And, of course, this strategy in treating tinnitus isn’t the only one presently being studied. Every new development, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a little bit closer.

Is There Anything You Can Do?

For now, 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 root issue.

Some strategies include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies created to help you ignore the sounds linked to your tinnitus. Many individuals also find relief with hearing aids. You don’t need to go it alone despite the fact that a cure is likely several years away. Spending less time worrying 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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