You Know when you’re viewing an action movie and the hero has a loud explosion close by and their ears begin to ring? Well, guess what: that most likely means our hero sustained at least a mild traumatic brain injury!
Naturally, action movies don’t highlight the brain injury part. But that ringing in our hero’s ears represents a condition called tinnitus. Tinnitus is most frequently talked about from the perspective of hearing loss, but it turns out that traumatic brain injuries such as concussions can also lead to this particular ringing in the ears.
After all, one of the most prevalent traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And there are quite a few reasons concussions can happen (car crashes, sporting accidents, and falls, for instance). It can be a bit complicated sorting out how a concussion can lead to tinnitus. But the good news is that even if you sustain a brain injury that triggers tinnitus, you can usually treat and manage your condition.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a particular kind of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Think about it like this: your brain is situated pretty tightly into your skull (your brain is large, and your skull is there to protect it). The brain will start moving around in your skull when something shakes your head violently. But your brain could wind up crashing into the inside of your skull because of the small amount of additional space in there.
This causes damage to your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be impacted by your brain. And when this occurs, you experience a concussion. This illustration makes it quite clear that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Here are a few symptoms of a concussion:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Ringing in the ears
- Slurred speech
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Loss of memory and confusion
- Blurry vision or dizziness
Even though this list makes the point, it’s in no way complete. A few weeks to a few months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. Brain damage from one concussion is typically not permanent, most individuals will end up making a complete recovery. But repeated concussions can lead to irreversible brain damage.
How is tinnitus triggered by a concussion?
Can a concussion mess with your hearing? Really?
It’s an intriguing question: what is the link between tinnitus and concussions? Because it’s more accurate to say that traumatic brain injuries (even minor ones) can cause tinnitus, It isn’t just concussions. That ringing in your ears can be activated by even mild brain injuries. Here are a few ways that may happen:
- Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: The relaying of sound to your brain is aided by three tiny bones in your ear. These bones can be pushed out of place by a significant concussive, impactive event. This can disrupt your ability to hear and cause tinnitus.
- Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is responsible for transmitting sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can harm.
- Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some cases, harm the portions of the brain that manage hearing. As a result, the signals sent from the ear to your brain can’t be properly digested and tinnitus can result.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: A TBI can cause the development of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome. This is a consequence of the buildup of pressure inside of the inner ear. Substantial hearing loss and tinnitus can become a problem over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: This type of concussion occurs when the inner ear is damaged due to your TBI. This damage can produce inflammation and cause both hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Damage to your hearing: For members of the armed forces, TBIs and concussions are often a result of proximity to an explosion. Permanent hearing loss can be caused when the stereocilia in your ears are damaged by the tremendously noisy shock wave of an explosion. So it isn’t so much that the concussion brought about tinnitus, it’s that the tinnitus and concussion have the same root cause.
It’s important to stress that every traumatic brain injury and concussion is a bit different. Every patient will get personalized care and instructions from us. You should certainly give us a call for an evaluation if you think you may have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
When you suffer from a concussion and tinnitus is the consequence, how can it be treated?
Most often, tinnitus related to a concussion or traumatic brain damage will be short-term. How long does tinnitus last after a concussion? Weeks or possibly months, sadly, could be the time frame. However, if your tinnitus has lingered for more than a year, it’s likely to be irreversible. Over time, in these circumstances, treatment plans to manage your condition will be the optimal strategy.
Here are some ways to accomplish this:
- Hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes dominant because the rest of the world goes into the background (as is the situation with non-TBI-caused hearing loss, everything else becomes quieter, so your tinnitus sounds louder). 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 ignore the sound by engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You accept that the noise is there, and then ignore it. This technique requires therapy and practice.
- Masking device: This device goes in your ear a lot like a hearing aid, but it creates specific noises instead of making things louder. Your specific tinnitus symptoms dictate what sound the device will produce helping you ignore the tinnitus sounds and be better able to focus on voices and other outside sounds.
Achieving the desired result will, in some cases, call for additional therapies. Management of the root concussion might be necessary in order to make the tinnitus go away. Depending on the status of your concussion, there could be several possible courses of action. In this regard, an accurate 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 substantial and traumatic situation in your life. It’s never a good day when you get a concussion! And if your ears are ringing, you may ask yourself, why do I have ringing in my ears after a car accident?
Tinnitus could emerge immediately or in the following days. However, it’s essential to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be successfully managed. Schedule a consultation with us right away.