You know that scene in your favorite action movie where something blows up next to the hero and the sound goes all high-pitched-buzzing? Well, guess what: that probably means our hero suffered at least a mild traumatic brain injury!
To be certain, brain injuries aren’t the part that most action movies focus on. But that high-pitched ringing is something known as tinnitus. Normally, hearing loss is the topic of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also cause this condition.
Concussions, after all, are one of the most common traumatic brain injuries that happen. And there are quite a few reasons concussions can happen (car crashes, sports accidents, and falls, for example). It can be somewhat complex sorting out how a concussion can lead to tinnitus. Luckily, treating and managing your conditions is usually very attainable.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is brain trauma of a very distinct kind. One way to think about it is that your brain is protected by fitting snuggly in your skull. When anything occurs and shakes the head violently enough, your brain starts moving around inside of your skull. But because there’s so little extra space in there, your brain could literally crash into the inside of your skull.
This causes harm to your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be impacted by your brain. And when this occurs, you experience a concussion. When you visualize this, it makes it simple to understand how a concussion is literally brain damage. Here are some symptoms of a concussion:
- Blurry vision or dizziness
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Ringing in the ears
- Loss of memory and confusion
- Vomiting and nausea
- Slurred speech
This list isn’t exhaustive, but you get the idea. A few weeks to several months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. Brain injury from a single concussion is typically not permanent, most people will end up making a full recovery. However, repeated or multiple concussions are a different story (generally speaking, it’s a good idea to avoid these).
How is tinnitus triggered by a concussion?
Is it really possible that a concussion may affect your hearing?
It’s an interesting question: what is the connection between tinnitus and concussions? Because it’s more correct to say that traumatic brain injuries (even mild ones) can result in tinnitus, it’s not only concussions. Even mild brain injuries can lead to that ringing in your ears. Here are a couple of ways that might take place:
- Damage to your hearing: For members of the military, TBIs and concussions are frequently caused by proximity to an explosion. And explosions are really loud, the sound and the shock wave can damage the stereocilia in your ear, triggering hearing loss and tinnitus. So it’s not so much that the concussion caused tinnitus, it’s that the tinnitus and concussion have the same root cause.
- Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: The transmission of sound to your brain is assisted by three bones in your ear. A substantial impact (the type that can trigger a concussion, for example) can push these bones out of place. This can interrupt your ability to hear and cause tinnitus.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: When your TBI injures the inner ear this type of concussion happens. Tinnitus and hearing loss, due to inflammation, can be the result of this damage.
- Nerve damage: A concussion may also trigger damage to the nerve that is responsible for transferring the sounds you hear to your brain.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: The development of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be a consequence of a TBI. This is caused by an accumulation of pressure within the inner ear. Eventually, Meniere’s syndrome can lead to noticeable tinnitus and hearing loss.
- Disruption of communication: In some cases, the portion of your brain that manages hearing can become damaged by a concussion. When this occurs, the messages that get sent from your ear cannot be properly processed, and tinnitus might occur as a result.
Of course it’s significant to keep in mind that no two brain injuries are precisely the same. Every patient will receive individualized care and instructions from us. You should certainly call us for an evaluation if you think you may have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
How do you manage tinnitus from a concussion?
Usually, it will be a temporary situation if tinnitus is the consequence of a concussion. How long does tinnitus last after a concussion? Weeks or possibly months, sadly, could be the time period. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is permanent if it persists for more than a year. Over time, in these situations, treatment plans to manage your condition will be the best plan.
This can be accomplished by:
- Therapy: In some cases, therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be utilized to help patients disregard the noise caused by their tinnitus. You accept that the noise is present, and then ignore it. It will take some therapy, practice, and time though.
- Masking device: This device is similar to a hearing aid, but instead of helping you hear things more loudly, it creates a specific noise in your ear. This noise is custom tailored to your tinnitus, drowning out the sound so you can pay attention to 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. Hearing aids help your tinnitus fade into the background by turning up the volume on everything else.
Obtaining the expected result will, in some cases, require added therapies. Treatment of the underlying concussion might be necessary in order to get rid of the tinnitus. The best course of action will depend on the nature of your concussion and your TBI. This means a precise diagnosis is extremely important in this regard.
Find out what the right plan of treatment may be for you by getting in touch with us.
TBI-caused 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 concussed! And if your ears are ringing, you might ask yourself, why do I have ringing in my ears after a car crash?
It could be days later or instantly after the accident that tinnitus symptoms emerge. However, it’s essential to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be successfully managed. Give us a call today to make an appointment.