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This Might Offer Relief From Ringing Ears

Woman with ringing in her ears.

You learn to adapt to life with tinnitus. In order to tune out the constant ringing, you always leave the TV on. You refrain from going out for happy hour with friends because the loud music at the bar makes your tinnitus worse for days. You make appointments regularly to try out new therapies and new techniques. Eventually, your tinnitus just becomes something you fold into your daily life.

The main reason is that tinnitus can’t be cured. But that might be changing. A study published in PLOS Biology appears to offer hope that we may be getting closer to a lasting and effective cure for tinnitus. Until then, hearing aids can be really helpful.

Tinnitus Has a Murky Set of Causes

Someone who is coping with tinnitus will hear a buzzing or ringing (or other sounds) that don’t have an external source. Tinnitus is quite common and millions of individuals cope with it to some degree.

It’s also a symptom, broadly speaking, and not a cause unto itself. In other words, something causes tinnitus – there’s a root issue that causes tinnitus symptoms. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is evasive is that these underlying causes can be hard to narrow down. Tinnitus symptoms can manifest due to a number of reasons.

True, most individuals attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some kind, but even that relationship is murky. 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 who had noise-related tinnitus were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And the results of these experiments pointed to a culprit of tinnitus: inflammation.

Tests and scans done on these mice showed that the parts 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 currently don’t comprehend because inflammation is the body’s reaction to injury.

But new types of treatment are also made possible by this knowledge of inflammation. Because we know (broadly speaking) how to deal with inflammation. When the mice were given drugs that inhibited the observed inflammation reaction, the symptoms of tinnitus disappeared. Or it became impossible to detect any symptoms, at least.

So is There a Magic Pill That Cures Tinnitus?

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

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

  • Mice were the focus of these experiments. Before this strategy is considered safe for humans, there’s still a substantial amount of work to do.
  • Any new approach needs to be demonstrated to be safe; these inflammation blocking medicines will need to be tested over time to rule out side effects and any potential concerns.
  • Not everyone’s tinnitus will have the same cause; whether all or even most cases of tinnitus are connected to some sort of inflammation is still hard to know.

So it may be a while before we have a pill for tinnitus. But it’s no longer impossible. If you have tinnitus today, that represents a significant increase in hope. And, obviously, this approach in treating tinnitus isn’t the only one presently being researched. The cure for tinnitus gets closer and closer with every discovery and every bit of new knowledge.

Is There Anything You Can Do?

If you have a persistent buzzing or ringing in your ears now, the promise of a far-off pill might provide you with hope – but not necessarily alleviation. Even though we don’t have a cure for tinnitus, there are some contemporary treatments that can provide real benefits.

There are cognitive therapies that help you learn to ignore tinnitus noises and others that use noise cancellation techniques. Many individuals also get 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 worrying about the ringing in your ears and more time doing the things you love can happen for you by getting the right treatment.



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.

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