Are Your Ears Ringing? This May Offer Relief

Woman with ringing in her ears.

You learn to adjust to life with tinnitus. You always keep the television on to help you tune out the constant ringing. 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 therapies. Ultimately, your tinnitus just becomes something you integrate into your daily life.

The primary reason is that tinnitus can’t be cured. But they may be getting close. We may be getting close to an effective and permanent cure for tinnitus according to research published in PLOS biology. Until then, hearing aids can be really helpful.

Tinnitus Has a Murky Set of Causes

Someone who has tinnitus will hear a ringing or buzzing (or other sounds) that don’t have an external source. A disorder that affects millions of people, tinnitus is very common.

It’s also a symptom, broadly speaking, and not itself a cause. Basically, something causes tinnitus – there’s a root problem that creates tinnitus symptoms. It can be difficult to narrow down the cause of tinnitus and that’s one of the reasons why a cure is so evasive. Tinnitus symptoms can develop due to several reasons.

True, most people attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some type, but even that relationship 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, led a study published in PLOS Biology. Mice who had noise-related tinnitus were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And the results of these experiments indicated a culprit of tinnitus: inflammation.

According to the tests and scans done on these mice, inflammation was seen around the areas of the brain responsible for hearing. As inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage, this finding does suggest that noise-induced hearing loss may be causing some damage we don’t completely understand as of yet.

But this discovery of inflammation also leads to the possibility of a new kind of treatment. Because we know (broadly speaking) how to manage 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?

This research does appear to suggest that, in the long run, there may 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 might get there if we can overcome a few hurdles:

  • First, these experiments were carried out on mice. And there’s a lot to do before this particular approach is deemed safe and approved for people.
  • We need to make sure any new approach is safe; it could take some time to determine particular side effects, complications, or problems linked to these specific inflammation-blocking medicines.
  • The precise cause of tinnitus will be distinct from person to person; it’s hard to identify (at this time) whether all or even most tinnitus is linked to inflammation of some sort.

So it may be a while before we have a pill for tinnitus. But it’s a real possibility in the future. That’s considerable hope for your tinnitus down the road. And numerous other tinnitus treatments are also being researched. Every new discovery, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a little bit closer.

Is There Anything You Can Do?

If you have a persistent buzzing or ringing in your ears now, the potential 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 produce real benefits.

Some strategies include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies created to help you ignore the sounds connected to your tinnitus. Hearing aids often provide relief for many people. A cure may be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with tinnitus alone or unassisted. Finding a treatment that works can help you spend more time doing things you love, and less time focusing on that buzzing or ringing in your ears.



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.