You Know when you’re viewing an action movie and the hero has a loud explosion close by and their ears begin to ring? Well, guess what: that likely means our hero sustained at least a mild traumatic brain injury!
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 trigger this condition.
Concussions, after all, are one of the more prevalent traumatic brain injuries that happen. And they can happen for a wide variety of reasons (car accidents, sporting accidents, and falls, for example). It can be somewhat complicated sorting out how a concussion can trigger tinnitus. But here’s the good news: even if you suffer a brain injury that triggers tinnitus, you can usually treat and manage your condition.
Concussions, exactly what are they?
A concussion is brain trauma of a very particular kind. Think about it this way: your brain is situated pretty tightly inside your skull (your brain is large, and your skull is there to protect it). When anything occurs and shakes the head violently enough, your brain starts moving around in your skull. But because there’s so little extra space in there, your brain could literally smash into the inside of your skull.
This harms your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be impacted by your brain. And this is what brings about a concussion. This example makes it quite evident that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Symptoms of concussions include the following:
- Slurred speech
- Vomiting and nausea
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Ringing in the ears
- Loss of memory and confusion
- Dizziness and blurred vision
This list is not exhaustive, but you get the idea. Symptoms from a concussion can continue anywhere between several weeks and several months. Brain injury from a single concussion is typically not permanent, most people will end up making a full recovery. But recurring concussions can result in irreversible brain damage.
How do concussions cause tinnitus?
Can a concussion mess with your hearing? Really?
The question of concussions and tinnitus is an interesting one. Not surprisingly, concussions won’t be the only brain traumas that can trigger tinnitus symptoms. That ringing in your ears can be set off by even mild brain injuries. That may happen in a few ways:
- Meniere’s Syndrome: A TBI can cause the onset of a condition called Meniere’s Syndrome. This is caused by an accumulation of pressure inside of the inner ear. Substantial hearing loss and tinnitus can become a problem over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
- Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is in charge of transmitting sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can harm.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: This type of concussion happens when the inner ear is injured as a result of your TBI. This damage can cause inflammation and cause both hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three tiny bones in your ear that help send sounds to your brain. A significant impact (the kind that can trigger a concussion, for instance) can push these bones out of place. This can disrupt your ability to hear and cause tinnitus.
- Damage to your hearing: Experiencing an explosion at close distance is the cause of concussions and TBIs for lots of members of the armed forces. And explosions are incredibly loud, the sound and the shock wave can damage the stereocilia in your ear, causing hearing loss and tinnitus. So it’s not so much that the concussion brought about tinnitus, it’s that the tinnitus and concussion have the same root cause.
- Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some situations, harm the parts of the brain that manage hearing. When this occurs, the signals that get transmitted from your ear can’t be properly processed, and tinnitus may happen consequently.
It’s significant to emphasize that every traumatic brain injury and concussion is a bit different. Individualized care and instructions, from us, will be provided to every patient. Certainly, if you think you have suffered a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you need to call us for an assessment as soon as possible.
How do you manage tinnitus caused by a concussion?
Typically, it will be a temporary scenario if tinnitus is the result of a concussion. How long does tinnitus last after a concussion? Weeks or months, unfortunately, could be the time period. However, if your tinnitus has lasted for more than a year, it’s likely to be permanent. In these situations, the treatment approach changes to controlling your symptoms over the long term.
This can be accomplished by:
- Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to disregard the sound by engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You ignore the sound after accepting it. It will require some therapy, practice, and time though.
- Hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes pronounced because the rest of the world takes a back seat (as is the case with non-TBI-caused hearing loss, everything else gets quieter, so your tinnitus sounds louder). A hearing aid can help raise the volume of everything else, ensuring that your tinnitus fades into the background.
- Masking device: This device goes inside your ear much like a hearing aid, but it produces specific noises instead of amplifying things. This noise is customized to your tinnitus, drowning out the sound so you can focus on voices, or other sounds you actually want to hear.
In some cases, further therapies may be required to obtain the expected result. Treatment of the root concussion might be required in order to make the tinnitus go away. Depending on the status of your concussion, there could be a number of possible courses of action. As a result, a precise diagnosis is incredibly important in this regard.
Talk to us about what the ideal treatment plan may look like for you.
You can control tinnitus caused by a TBI
A concussion can be a significant and traumatic situation in your life. It’s never a good day when you get a concussion! And if you have ringing in your ears, you may ask yourself, why do I have ringing in my ears after a car accident?
It could be days later or instantly after the accident that tinnitus symptoms surface. However, it’s essential to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be managed effectively. Give us a call today to make an appointment.