This Might Offer Relief From Ringing Ears

Woman with ringing in her ears.

You’re living with tinnitus and you’ve learned to adjust your life to it. You always leave the TV on to help you tune out the persistent ringing. You avoid 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 integrate into your day-to-day life.

Mainly, that’s because there isn’t a cure for tinnitus. But that may be changing. Research published in PLOS Biology seems to give hope that we could be getting closer to a lasting and reliable cure for tinnitus. Until that happens, hearing aids can be really helpful.

The Specific Causes of Tinnitus Are Not Clear

Tinnitus typically is experienced as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (though, tinnitus could manifest as other sounds as well) that do not have an objective cause. Tinnitus is quite common and millions of individuals cope with it on some level.

Generally speaking, tinnitus is itself a symptom of an underlying problem and not a cause in and of itself. In other words, something causes tinnitus – there’s a root issue that produces tinnitus symptoms. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is elusive is that these root causes can be hard to pin down. Tinnitus symptoms can manifest due to several reasons.

Even the relationship between tinnitus and hearing loss is not well understood. There’s a connection, sure, but not all people who have tinnitus also have hearing loss (and vice versa).

Inflammation: a New Culprit

Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, led a study published in PLOS Biology. Mice with noise-related tinnitus were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And what she and her colleagues found indicates a tinnitus culprit: inflammation.

According to the tests and scans done on these mice, inflammation was observed around the areas of the brain responsible for hearing. This reveals that some damage is occurring as a result of noise-related hearing loss which we presently don’t understand because inflammation is the body’s reaction to injury.

But this knowledge of inflammation also results in the potential for a new form of treatment. Because we know (generally speaking) how to manage inflammation. The symptoms of tinnitus cleared up when the mice were given drugs that inhibited 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 probably look at this research and see how, one day, there could easily be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine if you could just take 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 several huge hurdles in the way:

  • First, these experiments were done on mice. And there’s a lot to do before this specific strategy is considered safe and approved for people.
  • We need to be sure any new approach is safe; it may take some time to determine particular side effects, complications, or problems connected to these particular inflammation-blocking medications.
  • Not everyone’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 it may be a while before we have a pill for tinnitus. But it’s no longer impossible. That’s significant hope for your tinnitus down the road. And numerous other tinnitus treatments are also being studied. Every new discovery, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a little bit closer.

What Can You do Now?

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

Some approaches include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies created to help you ignore the sounds linked to your tinnitus. Many individuals also get 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 thinking about the ringing in your ears and more time doing the things you love can happen for you by getting the right treatment.


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.