You know that scene in your favorite action movie where something blows up near the hero and the sound goes all high-pitched-buzzing? Well, at least some degree of minor brain trauma has likely happened to them.
To be sure, brain injuries aren’t the bit that most action movies linger on. But that high-pitched ringing is something called tinnitus. Tinnitus is most often discussed from the perspective of hearing loss, but it turns out that traumatic brain injuries like concussions can also lead to this particular ringing in the ears.
Concussions, after all, are one of the more common traumatic brain injuries that happen. And there are a number of reasons concussions can occur (car crashes, sporting accidents, and falls, for example). It can be a bit complex sorting out how a concussion can cause tinnitus. Luckily, treating and managing your conditions is typically very achievable.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a particular type of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Think about it this way: your brain is situated fairly tightly into your skull (your brain is large, and your skull is there to protect it). When something comes along and shakes the head violently enough, your brain starts moving around inside of your skull. But your brain could wind up smashing into the inside of your skull because of the little amount of extra space in there.
This causes damage to your brain! The brain can hit one or more sides of your skull. And when this happens, you get a concussion. This example makes it quite evident that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Symptoms of concussions include the following:
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Ringing in the ears
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Loss of memory and confusion
- Vomiting and nausea
This list is not exhaustive, but you get the idea. Several weeks to a few months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. When somebody gets a single concussion, they will typically make a full recovery. However, repetitive or multiple concussions are a different story (generally speaking, it’s the best idea to avoid these).
How is tinnitus triggered by a concussion?
Is it actually feasible that a concussion could impact your hearing?
It’s an interesting question: what is the link between tinnitus and concussions? Because it’s more correct to say that traumatic brain injuries (even minor ones) can cause tinnitus, it’s not just concussions. Even mild brain injuries can result in that ringing in your ears. Here are a couple of ways that might happen:
- Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is in charge of transmitting sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can damage.
- Damage to your hearing: For members of the military, TBIs and concussions are frequently related to distance to an explosion. Irreversible hearing loss can be caused when the stereocilia in your ears are damaged by the incredibly noisy shock wave of an explosion. Tinnitus isn’t necessarily caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some root causes.
- Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some instances, damage the portions of the brain that manage hearing. When this occurs, the signals that get sent from your ear can’t be correctly processed, and tinnitus may happen as a result.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: When your TBI damages the inner ear this form of concussion occurs. Tinnitus and hearing loss, due to inflammation, can be the result of this damage.
- Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: The relaying of sound to your brain is assisted by three tiny bones in your ear. A substantial impact (the type that can trigger a concussion, for instance) can jostle these bones out of place. This can disrupt your ability to hear and cause tinnitus.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: A TBI can cause the onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome. This is caused by the buildup of pressure within the inner ear. Substantial hearing loss and tinnitus can become a problem over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
It’s important to emphasize that every traumatic brain injury and concussion is a little different. Personalized care and instructions, from us, will be given to every patient. Indeed, if you think you have suffered a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you need to call us for an evaluation right away.
When you get a concussion and tinnitus is the consequence, how can it be addressed?
Most frequently, tinnitus caused by a concussion or traumatic brain injury will be short-term. After a concussion, how long can I expect my tinnitus to linger? Weeks or months, unfortunately, could be the time period. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is irreversible if it lasts more than a year. Over time, in these situations, treatment plans to manage your condition will be the best strategy.
This can be accomplished by:
- Therapy: In some cases, therapy, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be utilized to help patients disregard the noise produced by their tinnitus. You disregard 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 goes into the background (as is the situation with non-TBI-caused hearing loss, everything else gets quieter, so your tinnitus sounds louder). A hearing aid can help turn the volume up on everything else, ensuring that your tinnitus fades into the background.
- Masking device: This device goes in your ear much like a hearing aid, but it creates specific noises instead of making things louder. This noise is custom tailored to your tinnitus, drowning out the sound so you can pay attention to voices, or other sounds you really want to hear.
In some cases, additional therapies might be required to obtain the desired result. Management of the underlying concussion might be necessary in order to get rid of the tinnitus. Depending on the status of your concussion, there may be a number of possible courses of action. As a result, a precise diagnosis is incredibly important in this regard.
Discover what the best plan of treatment may be for you by getting in touch with us.
You can control tinnitus caused by a TBI
Your life can be traumatically impacted by a concussion. When you get concussed, it’s a bad day! And if you’ve been in a car crash and your ears are ringing, you may wonder why.
Tinnitus could surface immediately or in the following days. However, it’s important to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be successfully managed. Schedule a consultation with us today.