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!
To be sure, brain injuries aren’t the bit that most action movies focus on. But that high-pitched ringing is something called tinnitus. Normally, hearing loss is the topic of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also cause this condition.
After all, one of the most prevalent traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And they can happen for a wide variety of reasons (car accidents, sporting accidents, and falls, for example). It can be a bit complex sorting out how a concussion can lead to tinnitus. Luckily, treating and managing your conditions is typically very achievable.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is brain trauma of a very particular kind. Think about it like this: your brain is situated pretty tightly inside your skull (your brain is big, 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 because there’s so little additional space in there, your brain could literally smash into the inside of your skull.
This causes damage to your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be hit by your brain. And this is what brings about a concussion. When you picture this, it makes it easy to see how a concussion is quite literally brain damage. Symptoms of concussions include the following:
- Slurred speech
- Vomiting and nausea
- Loss of memory and confusion
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Ringing in the ears
This list is not complete, but you get the point. Symptoms from a concussion can continue anywhere between several weeks and a few months. When someone gets a single concussion, they will typically make a complete recovery. But recurring concussions can result in permanent brain damage.
How do concussions cause tinnitus?
Is it really feasible that a concussion may impact your hearing?
The matter of concussions and tinnitus is an intriguing one. Not surprisingly, concussions won’t be the only brain traumas that can trigger tinnitus symptoms. Even mild brain injuries can lead to that ringing in your ears. That may occur in a couple of ways:
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: This type of concussion happens when the inner ear is damaged due to your TBI. Tinnitus and hearing loss, due to inflammation, can be the result 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.
- Damage to your hearing: Enduring an explosion at close distance is the cause of concussions and TBIs for many members of the military. And explosions are very loud, the noise and the shock wave can damage the stereocilia in your ear, triggering hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some root causes.
- Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three bones in your ear that help transmit sounds to your brain. These bones can be knocked out of place by a substantial concussive, impactive event. This can interrupt your ability to hear and result in tinnitus.
- Disruption of communication: In some cases, the part 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 correctly processed and tinnitus can be the outcome.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: The onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be a consequence of a TBI. This is a consequence of the buildup of pressure inside of the inner ear. Significant hearing loss and tinnitus can become a problem over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
Of course it’s important to keep in mind that no two brain injuries are precisely the same. Personalized care and instructions, from us, will be given to every patient. Certainly, if you think you have suffered a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you need to call us for an evaluation right away.
How do you deal with tinnitus from a concussion?
Usually, it will be a temporary scenario if tinnitus is the result of a concussion. After a concussion, how long can I anticipate my tinnitus to linger? Weeks or months, sadly, could be the time frame. Then again, if your tinnitus has lasted for more than a year, it’s likely to be long lasting. Over time, in these situations, treatment plans to manage your condition will be the best strategy.
Here are some ways to accomplish this:
- Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to disregard the sound by undertaking cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You disregard the sound after accepting it. This technique takes therapy and practice.
- Masking device: This device goes in your ear a lot like a hearing aid, but it creates particular 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.
- Hearing aid: In a similar way to when you’re dealing with hearing loss not caused by a TBI, tinnitus symptoms seem louder because everything else is quieter. A hearing aid can help raise the volume of everything else, assuring that your tinnitus fades into the background.
In some cases, additional therapies might be necessary to obtain the desired result. Clearing up the tinnitus will often call for treatment to the underlying concussion. The right course of action will depend on the status of your concussion and your TBI. This means a precise diagnosis is extremely important in this regard.
Consult us about what the right treatment plan may look like for you.
TBI-triggered tinnitus can be managed
A concussion can be a significant and traumatic event in your life. It’s never a good day when you get a concussion! And if you have ringing in your ears, you might ask yourself, why do I have ringing in my ears after a car crash?
Tinnitus could emerge instantly or in the following days. However, it’s important to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be managed effectively. Call us today to schedule an appointment.