You Know when you’re viewing an action movie and the hero has a thunderous explosion nearby and their ears begin to ring? Well, at least some degree of mild brain trauma has likely happened to them.
Obviously, action movies don’t highlight the brain injury part. But that high-pitched ringing is something known as tinnitus. Normally, hearing loss is the subject of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also cause this condition.
Concussions, after all, are one of the more common traumatic brain injuries that occur. And there are lots of reasons concussions can happen (car accidents, sporting accidents, and falls, for example). How something like a concussion causes tinnitus can be, well, complex. But here’s the good news: even if you suffer a brain injury that causes tinnitus, you can usually treat and manage your condition.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a specific type of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Think about it this way: your brain is nestled pretty tightly inside your skull (your brain is large, and your skull is there to protect it). When something occurs and shakes the head violently enough, your brain begins moving around inside of your skull. But your brain could wind up crashing into the inside of your skull because of the little amount of additional space in there.
This hurts your brain! The brain can hit one or more sides of your skull. And this is what causes a concussion. When you picture this, it makes it easy to see how a concussion is quite literally brain damage. Here are some symptoms of a concussion:
- Ringing in the ears
- Slurred speech
- Confusion and loss of memory
- Nausea and vomiting
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Blurry vision or dizziness
This list isn’t complete, but you get the point. Symptoms from a concussion can last anywhere between a few weeks and several months. When somebody gets one concussion, they will typically make a complete recovery. However, repeated or multiple concussions are a bigger problem (generally speaking, it’s a good idea to avoid these).
How is tinnitus caused by a concussion?
Can a concussion interfere with your hearing? Really?
The question of concussions and tinnitus is an interesting one. Because it’s more accurate to say that traumatic brain injuries (even mild ones) can lead to tinnitus, it’s not only concussions. That ringing in your ears can be triggered by even mild brain injuries. Here are a couple of ways that might take place:
- Disruption of communication: In some cases, the portion of your brain that controls hearing can become harmed by a concussion. As a result, the signals sent from the ear to your brain can’t be properly digested and tinnitus can be the outcome.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: This type of concussion happens when the inner ear is injured as a result of your TBI. Tinnitus and hearing loss, as a result of inflammation, can be the consequence of this damage.
- Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is in charge of transmitting sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can harm.
- Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: The relaying of sound to your brain is aided by three tiny bones in your ear. A major impact (the kind that can cause a concussion, for example) can push these bones out of place. Tinnitus can be caused by this and it can also disrupt your hearing.
- Damage to your hearing: For members of the military, TBIs and concussions are frequently caused by distance to an explosion. And explosions are really loud, the noise and the shock wave can harm the stereocilia in your ear, triggering hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some common causes.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: The onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be caused by a TBI. This is a consequence of an accumulation of pressure within the inner ear. Sooner or later, Meniere’s syndrome can lead to significant tinnitus and hearing loss.
Of course it’s significant to keep in mind that no two brain injuries are exactly the same. Individualized care and instructions, from us, will be given to every patient. You should definitely call us for an assessment if you think you might have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
When you get a concussion and tinnitus is the result, how can it be addressed?
Typically, it will be a temporary scenario if tinnitus is the result of a concussion. After a concussion, how long can I expect my tinnitus to linger? Well, it might last weeks or possibly months. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is permanent if it lasts more than a year. In these circumstances, the treatment plan transitions to managing your symptoms over the long run.
Here are some ways to accomplish this:
- Therapy: In some situations, therapy, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be utilized to help patients ignore the noise produced by their tinnitus. You disregard the sound after accepting it. It will take some therapy, practice, and time though.
- Hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes dominant because the rest of the world goes into the background (as is the situation with non-TBI-caused hearing loss, everything else becomes quieter, so your tinnitus seems louder). Hearing aids help your tinnitus go into the background by turning the volume up on everything else.
- Masking device: This device is similar to a hearing aid, only instead of helping you hear things louder, it produces a specific noise in your ear. This noise is custom tailored to your tinnitus, overpowering the sound so you can pay attention to voices, or other sounds you really want to hear.
In some situations, further therapies might be necessary to accomplish the expected result. Getting rid of the tinnitus will frequently call for treatment to the underlying concussion. Depending on the nature of your concussion, there could be a number of possible courses of action. In this regard, a precise diagnosis is key.
Find out what the right plan of treatment might be for you by giving us a call.
TBI-triggered tinnitus can be controlled
A concussion can be a substantial and traumatic event in your life. When you get a concussion, it’s a bad day! And if you’ve been in a car accident and your ears are ringing, you might wonder why.
Tinnitus could emerge immediately or in the days that follow. However, it’s important to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be managed effectively. Schedule a consultation with us today.