You Know when you’re watching an action movie and the hero has a thunderous explosion close by and their ears start ringing? Well, at least some amount of minor brain trauma has likely happened to them.
Naturally, action movies don’t highlight the brain injury part. But that high-pitched ringing is something known as tinnitus. Tinnitus is most often talked about from the perspective of hearing loss, but actually, traumatic brain injuries like concussions can also cause this particular ringing in the ears.
Concussions, after all, are one of the most common traumatic brain injuries that happen. And there are quite a few reasons concussions can occur (for instance, falls, sporting accidents, and motor vehicle accidents). It can be somewhat complex sorting out how a concussion can trigger tinnitus. But here’s the good news: even if you sustain a brain injury that triggers tinnitus, you can normally treat and manage your condition.
Concussions, exactly what are they?
A concussion is a particular kind of traumatic brain injury (TBI). One way to think about it is that your brain is protected by fitting tightly in your skull. The brain will start to move around in your skull when something shakes your head violently. But your brain could end up smashing into the inside of your skull because of the little amount of extra space in there.
This hurts your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be impacted by your brain. And when this happens, you experience a concussion. This example makes it quite clear that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Symptoms of concussions include the following:
- Slurred speech
- Vomiting and nausea
- Loss of memory and confusion
- Ringing in the ears
- Blurry vision or dizziness
- A slow or delayed response to questions
This list is not exhaustive, but you get the point. A few weeks to a few months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. Brain damage from a single concussion is generally not permanent, most individuals will end up making a full recovery. However, repeated or multiple concussions are a bigger problem (generally, it’s the best idea to avoid these).
How is tinnitus caused by a concussion?
Is it actually possible that a concussion may affect your hearing?
It’s an intriguing question: what is the connection between concussions and tinnitus? 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 few ways that might take place:
- Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some situations, damage the parts of the brain that manage hearing. Consequently, the signals sent from the ear to your brain can’t be precisely digested and tinnitus can be the outcome.
- Damage to your hearing: Experiencing an explosion at close distance is the cause of concussions and TBIs for many members of the military. Permanent hearing loss can be triggered when the stereocilia in your ears are damaged by the tremendously loud shock wave of an explosion. Tinnitus isn’t always caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some root causes.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: A TBI can cause the onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome. When pressure accumulates in the inner ear this condition can happen. Eventually, Meniere’s syndrome can lead to noticeable tinnitus and hearing loss.
- Nerve damage: A concussion may also cause injury to the nerve that is in charge of transferring the sounds you hear to your brain.
- Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: The transmission of sound to your brain is aided by three bones in your ear. These bones can be pushed out of place by a substantial concussive, impactive event. This can disrupt your ability to hear and result in tinnitus.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: This type of concussion takes place when the inner ear is injured due to your TBI. Tinnitus and hearing loss, as a result of inflammation, can be the consequence of this damage.
It’s important to emphasize that every traumatic brain injury and concussion is a bit different. Every patient will get individualized care and instructions from us. Indeed, if you think you have suffered a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you should call us for an evaluation as soon as possible.
How do you deal with tinnitus from a concussion?
Typically, it will be a temporary scenario if tinnitus is the consequence of a concussion. How long can tinnitus last after a concussion? Weeks or months, sadly, could be the time period. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is permanent if it persists for more than a year. In these cases, the treatment approach changes to managing your symptoms over the long term.
This can be achieved by:
- 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.
- Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to overlook the sound by engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You disregard the sound after accepting it. This technique takes therapy and practice.
- Masking device: This device is a lot like a hearing aid, only instead of helping you hear things more loudly, it creates a particular noise in your ear. This noise is customized 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, further therapies may be necessary to obtain the desired result. Treatment of the root concussion might be necessary in order to make the tinnitus go away. The correct course of action will depend on the status of your concussion and your TBI. As a result, a precise diagnosis is extremely important in this regard.
Consult us about what the ideal treatment plan might look like for you.
TBI-triggered tinnitus can be managed
Your life can be traumatically impacted by a concussion. When you get concussed, it’s a bad day! And if you have ringing in your ears, you may ask yourself, why do I have ringing in my ears after a car crash?
Tinnitus could surface immediately or in the days that follow. But you can successfully manage tinnitus after an accident and that’s important to keep in mind. Call us today to schedule an appointment.