Are Your Ears Ringing? This Might Offer Relief

Woman with ringing in her ears.

You learn to adjust to life with tinnitus. You always leave the TV on to help you tune out the constant ringing. 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 routinely to try new therapies and new techniques. Ultimately, 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 might be changing. A study published in PLOS Biology appears to offer hope that we may be getting closer to a permanent and effective cure for tinnitus. Until that happens, hearing aids can be really helpful.

Tinnitus Has a Murky Set of Causes

Tinnitus normally manifests as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (though, tinnitus could present as other sounds too) that do not have an external cause. A condition that affects millions of individuals, tinnitus is very common.

It’s also a symptom, broadly speaking, and not itself a cause. Tinnitus is generally caused by something else. It can be hard to pin down the cause of tinnitus and that’s one of the reasons why a cure is so evasive. Tinnitus symptoms can develop due to numerous reasons.

True, most individuals attribute tinnitus to hearing loss of some sort, but even that relationship is murky. Some people who have tinnitus do have hearing loss but some don’t.

A New Culprit: Inflammation

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-induced tinnitus were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And the results of these experiments pointed to a culprit of tinnitus: inflammation.

Tests and scans carried out on these mice showed that the areas of the brain in control of listening and hearing typically had considerable inflammation. As inflammation is the body’s response to damage, this finding does suggest that noise-related hearing loss could be creating some damage we don’t really understand as of yet.

But new types of treatment are also made available by this knowledge of inflammation. Because inflammation is something we know how to manage. The symptoms of tinnitus cleared up when the mice were given drugs that impeded inflammation. 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 might easily 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 may get there if we can tackle a few hurdles:

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

So, a pill for tinnitus might be a long way off. But it’s no longer impossible. If you have tinnitus today, that represents a substantial increase in hope. And several other tinnitus treatments are also being studied. The cure for tinnitus gets closer and closer with every development and every bit of new knowledge.

What Can You do Today?

If you have a relentless ringing or buzzing in your ears now, the potential of a far-off pill may give you hope – but not necessarily alleviation. There are modern treatments for tinnitus that can provide real results, even if they don’t necessarily “cure” the root issue.

Some approaches include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies created to help you ignore the sounds linked to your tinnitus. Many people also find relief with hearing aids. A cure may be many years off, but that doesn’t mean you have to cope with tinnitus alone or unassisted. Obtaining 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.