You Know when you’re viewing an action movie and the hero has a loud explosion nearby and their ears begin to ring? Well, guess what: that most likely means our hero sustained at least a minor traumatic brain injury!
To be sure, brain injuries aren’t the part that most action movies focus on. But that high-pitched ringing is something known as tinnitus. Usually, hearing loss is the subject of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also cause this condition.
After all, one of the most common traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And they can happen for numerous reasons (for example, falls, sports accidents, and motor vehicle accidents). It can be somewhat complex sorting out how a concussion can cause tinnitus. Fortunately, treating and managing your conditions is typically very achievable.
Concussions, exactly what are they?
A concussion is a particular form of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Think about it like this: your brain is situated fairly tightly into your skull (your brain is big, and your skull is there to protect it). The brain will begin to move around inside your skull when something shakes your head violently. But your brain could end up crashing into the inside of your skull because of the small amount of extra space in there.
This causes damage to your brain! The brain can hit one or more sides of your skull. And this is what leads to a concussion. This example makes it quite evident that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Here are a few symptoms of a concussion:
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Ringing in the ears
- Confusion and loss of memory
- Vomiting and nausea
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- Slurred speech
Even though this list makes the point, it’s certainly not complete. A few weeks to several months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. Brain injury from one concussion is typically not permanent, most people will end up making a total recovery. But recurring concussions can lead to permanent brain damage.
How is tinnitus triggered by a concussion?
Can a concussion interfere with your hearing? Really?
It’s an interesting question: what is the link between concussions and tinnitus? Not surprisingly, concussions are not the only brain traumas that can trigger tinnitus symptoms. Even mild brain injuries can lead to that ringing in your ears. Here are a couple of ways that might take place:
- Nerve damage: A concussion may also trigger damage to the nerve that is in charge of transferring the sounds you hear to your brain.
- Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three tiny bones in your ear that help transfer sounds to your brain. A major impact (the kind that can cause a concussion, for example) can jostle these bones out of place. Tinnitus can be caused by this and it can also disrupt your hearing.
- Disruption of communication: In some instances, the portion of your brain that manages hearing can become damaged by a concussion. Consequently, the messages sent from the ear to your brain can’t be precisely processed and tinnitus can result.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: This form of concussion occurs when the inner ear is injured as a result of your TBI. Tinnitus and hearing loss, due to inflammation, can be the result of this damage.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: The onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be caused by a TBI. This is caused by an accumulation of pressure within the inner ear. Substantial hearing loss and tinnitus can become a problem over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
- Damage to your hearing: For members of the armed forces, TBIs and concussions are often related to proximity to an explosion. And explosions are really loud, the sound and the shock wave can damage the stereocilia in your ear, causing hearing loss and tinnitus. So it isn’t so much that the concussion brought about tinnitus, it’s that the tinnitus and concussion have a common underlying cause.
It’s important to emphasize that every traumatic brain injury and concussion is a bit different. Every patient will receive personalized care and instructions from us. You should certainly give us a call for an evaluation if you believe 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 challenge if tinnitus is the result of a concussion. After a concussion, how long can I anticipate my tinnitus to linger? Weeks or possibly months, unfortunately, could be the time frame. However, if your tinnitus has lingered for more than a year, it’s likely to be long lasting. Over time, in these circumstances, treatment plans to manage your condition will be the optimal strategy.
Here are some ways to achieve this:
- Hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes pronounced because the rest of the world takes a back seat (as is the situation with non-TBI-caused hearing loss, everything else becomes quieter, so your tinnitus sounds louder). Hearing aids help your tinnitus fade into the background by turning the volume up on everything else.
- Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to overlook the sound by engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You acknowledge that the noise is present, and then disregard it. This technique requires therapy and practice.
- Masking device: This device goes in your ear much like a hearing aid, but it produces specific noises instead of amplifying things. Your distinct tinnitus symptoms determine what sound the device will produce helping you ignore the tinnitus sounds and be better able to pay attention to voices and other external sounds.
Achieving the desired result will, in some situations, require additional therapies. Treatment of the underlying concussion may be required in order to make the tinnitus go away. The best course of action will depend on the status of your concussion and your TBI. In this regard, a precise diagnosis is key.
Consult us about what the right treatment plan might look like for you.
TBI-caused tinnitus can be managed
Your life can be traumatically impacted by a concussion. It’s never a good day when you get concussed! And if your ears are ringing, you may ask yourself, why are my ears ringing after a car accident?
It may be days later or instantly after the crash that tinnitus symptoms emerge. But you can effectively manage tinnitus after a crash and that’s significant to keep in mind. Schedule a consultation with us right away.