You Know when you’re viewing an action movie and the hero has a loud explosion nearby and their ears begin to ring? Well, at least some amount of minor brain trauma has likely happened to them.
To be sure, brain injuries aren’t the bit that most action movies linger on. But that ringing in our hero’s ears represents a condition called tinnitus. Normally, hearing loss is the topic of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also trigger this condition.
After all, one of the most prevalent traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And there are quite a few reasons concussions can occur (car accidents, sporting accidents, and falls, for instance). It can be somewhat complex sorting out how a concussion can lead to tinnitus. But the good news is that even if you sustain a brain injury that causes tinnitus, you can usually treat and manage your condition.
Concussions, exactly what are they?
A concussion is a specific form of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Think about it this way: your brain is nestled fairly tightly inside 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 begins 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 hurts your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be impacted by your brain. And when this occurs, 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
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Loss of memory and confusion
- Vomiting and nausea
- Ringing in the ears
Although this list makes the point, it’s certainly not complete. Several weeks to a few 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 complete recovery. But, repetitive or multiple concussions are a different story (generally speaking, it’s the best idea to avoid these).
How is tinnitus triggered by a concussion?
Is it really feasible that a concussion could affect your hearing?
The matter of concussions and tinnitus is an interesting one. Not surprisingly, concussions won’t be the only brain traumas that can cause tinnitus symptoms. Even mild brain injuries can result in that ringing in your ears. That might occur in a couple of ways:
- 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 brought about tinnitus, it’s that the tinnitus and concussion have a common root cause.
- Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: The transmission of sound to your brain is assisted by three tiny bones in your ear. A substantial impact (the type that can cause a concussion, for instance) can push these bones out of place. This can disrupt your ability to hear and cause tinnitus.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: When your TBI damages the inner ear this type of concussion happens. Tinnitus and hearing loss, due to inflammation, can be the consequence of this damage.
- Disruption of communication: In some cases, the part of your brain that manages hearing can become harmed by a concussion. When this occurs, the messages that get transmitted from your ear cannot be correctly processed, and tinnitus may happen consequently.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: A TBI can cause the onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome. When pressure builds up in the inner ear this condition can occur. Sooner or later, Meniere’s syndrome can lead to significant tinnitus and hearing loss.
- Nerve damage: A concussion might also trigger injury to the nerve that is responsible for transferring the sounds you hear to your brain.
It’s significant to emphasize that every traumatic brain injury and concussion is a little different. Individualized care and instructions, from us, will be provided to every patient. You should certainly give us a call for an evaluation if you think you might have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
When you get a concussion and tinnitus is the result, how can it be addressed?
Usually, it will be a temporary scenario 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 long lasting 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:
- Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to disregard the sound by undertaking cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You disregard the sound after acknowledging it. This technique requires therapy and practice.
- Masking device: This device is a lot like a hearing aid, but instead of helping you hear things louder, it creates a specific noise in your ear. Your particular tinnitus symptoms dictate what sound the device will produce helping you ignore the tinnitus sounds and be better able to pay attention to voices and other outside sounds.
- 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 go into the background by turning up the volume on everything else.
In some situations, additional therapies may be required to achieve the expected result. Clearing up the tinnitus will frequently require treatment to the root concussion. The right course of action will depend on the status of your concussion and your TBI. As a result, an accurate diagnosis is incredibly important in this regard.
Talk to us about what the right treatment plan may look like for you.
You can manage tinnitus caused by a TBI
Your life can be traumatically affected 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?
It may be days later or instantly after the crash that tinnitus symptoms emerge. But you can effectively control tinnitus after a crash and that’s important to keep in mind. Schedule a consultation with us right away.