You know that scene in your favorite action movie where something blows up near the hero and the sound gets all high-pitched-buzzing? Well, at least some amount of mild brain trauma has likely happened to them.
To be certain, brain injuries aren’t the bit that most action movies focus on. But that ringing in our hero’s ears signifies a condition called tinnitus. Tinnitus is most often talked about in the context of hearing loss, but it turns out that traumatic brain injuries like concussions can also trigger this particular ringing in the ears.
After all, one of the most prevalent traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And there are lots of reasons concussions can happen (for instance, falls, sporting accidents, and motor vehicle accidents). It can be somewhat complicated 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 kind of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Think about it like this: your brain is nestled fairly tightly into your skull (your brain is big, and your skull is there to protect it). When anything occurs and shakes the head violently enough, your brain starts moving around in your skull. But because there’s so little extra space in there, your brain may literally crash into the inside of your skull.
This causes harm to your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be hit by your brain. And this is what brings about a concussion. This example makes it quite clear that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Symptoms of concussions include the following:
- Loss of memory and confusion
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Slurred speech
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Nausea and vomiting
Even though this list makes the point, it’s in no way complete. Several weeks to several months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. Brain injury from one concussion is typically not permanent, most individuals will end up making a complete recovery. But repeated concussions can cause permanent brain damage.
How is tinnitus caused by a concussion?
Can a concussion mess with your hearing? Really?
The matter of concussions and tinnitus is an intriguing one. After all, concussions are not the only brain traumas that can cause tinnitus symptoms. That ringing in your ears can be activated by even mild brain injuries. That might occur in a few ways:
- Damage to your hearing: Enduring an explosion at close range is the cause of concussions and TBIs for lots of members of the armed forces. And explosions are very loud, the noise and the shock wave can damage the stereocilia in your ear, causing hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t inevitably caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some root causes.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: A TBI can cause the development of a condition called Meniere’s Syndrome. When pressure accumulates in the inner ear this condition can occur. Significant hearing loss and tinnitus can become an issue over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: When your TBI damages the inner ear this type of concussion occurs. This damage can cause inflammation and cause both hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Disruption of communication: In some instances, the part of your brain that manages hearing can become harmed by a concussion. Consequently, the messages sent from the ear to your brain can’t be properly processed and tinnitus can be the outcome.
- Nerve damage: A concussion may also cause injury to the nerve that is responsible for transmitting the sounds you hear to your brain.
- Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: The transmission of sound to your brain is assisted by three tiny bones in your ear. These bones can be pushed out of place by a substantial concussive, impactive event. This can interrupt your ability to hear and result in tinnitus.
Of course it’s important to note that no two brain injuries are exactly alike. Every patient will get personalized care and instructions from us. You should certainly give us a call for an assessment if you believe you may have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
When you suffer from a concussion and tinnitus is the consequence, how can it be addressed?
Typically, it will be a temporary challenge if tinnitus is the consequence of a concussion. How long does tinnitus linger after a concussion? Well, it could last weeks or months. However, if your tinnitus has lingered for more than a year, it’s likely to be long lasting. In these situations, the treatment plan transitions to controlling your symptoms over the long term.
Here are some ways to achieve this:
- Therapy: In some situations, therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be utilized to help patients ignore the noise caused by their tinnitus. You ignore the sound after acknowledging it. It will require some therapy, practice, and time though.
- Hearing aid: In a similar way to when you’re dealing with hearing loss not triggered by a TBI, tinnitus symptoms seem louder because everything else is quieter. A hearing aid can help raise the volume of everything else, ensuring that your tinnitus fades into the background.
- Masking device: This device is similar to a hearing aid, but instead of helping you hear things more loudly, it produces 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 really want to hear.
Achieving the expected result will, in some situations, call for added therapies. Clearing up the tinnitus will often require treatment to the underlying concussion. The right course of action will depend on the status of your concussion and your TBI. In this regard, a precise diagnosis is key.
Find out what the best plan of treatment may be for you by giving us a call.
TBI-caused tinnitus can be managed
A concussion can be a significant and traumatic event in your life. When you get concussed, it’s a bad day! And if you have ringing in your ears, you may ask yourself, why are my ears ringing after a car crash?
It may be days later or immediately after the crash that tinnitus symptoms emerge. But you can effectively manage tinnitus after an accident and that’s important to keep in mind. Call us today to schedule an appointment.