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 degree of mild brain trauma has likely happened to them.
To be certain, brain injuries aren’t the part that most action movies linger on. But that high-pitched ringing is something called tinnitus. Usually, 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 prevalent traumatic brain injuries that occur. And they can occur for many reasons (car crashes, sporting accidents, and falls, for instance). It can be somewhat complicated sorting out how a concussion can trigger tinnitus. But here’s the good news: 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 brain trauma of a very specific type. One way to think about it is that your brain is protected by sitting tightly in your skull. When anything comes along and shakes the head violently enough, your brain starts moving around inside of your skull. But because there’s so little additional space in there, your brain may literally crash into the inside of your skull.
This causes damage to your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be hit by your brain. And when this happens, you experience a concussion. This example makes it quite evident that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Here are a few symptoms of a concussion:
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Ringing in the ears
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- Vomiting and nausea
- Slurred speech
- Confusion and loss of memory
This list is not complete, but you get the point. Symptoms from a concussion can persist anywhere between a few weeks and several months. Brain damage from a single concussion is typically not permanent, most individuals will end up making a total recovery. However, repetitive or multiple concussions are a different story (generally, it’s a good idea to avoid these).
How do concussions cause tinnitus?
Can a concussion mess with your hearing? Really?
It’s an interesting question: what is the link between tinnitus and concussions? After all, concussions are not the only brain traumas that can trigger tinnitus symptoms. Even mild brain injuries can result in that ringing in your ears. That may happen in a few ways:
- Damage to your hearing: For members of the armed forces, TBIs and concussions are often a result of distance to an explosion. Permanent hearing loss can be triggered when the stereocilia in your ears are injured by the incredibly loud shock wave of an explosion. Tinnitus isn’t always caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some root causes.
- Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is in charge of sending sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can harm.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: The development of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be caused by a TBI. When pressure accumulates in the inner ear this condition can happen. Substantial hearing loss and tinnitus can become an issue over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
- Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: The relaying of sound to your brain is assisted by three bones in your ear. These bones can be pushed out of place by a substantial concussive, impactive event. Tinnitus can be caused by this and it can also interrupt your ability to hear.
- Disruption of communication: In some cases, the portion of your brain that controls hearing can become harmed by a concussion. When this happens, the messages that get sent from your ear can’t be properly processed, and tinnitus might happen consequently.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: When your TBI injures the inner ear this form of concussion happens. This damage can cause inflammation and lead to both hearing loss and tinnitus.
Of course it’s important to note that no two brain injuries are exactly the same. Individualized care and instructions, from us, will be given to every patient. You should definitely contact us for an assessment if you think you might have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
How do you deal with tinnitus from a concussion?
Usually, it will be a temporary challenge if tinnitus is the consequence of a concussion. After a concussion, how long can I anticipate my tinnitus to last? Weeks or possibly months, sadly, could be the time period. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is irreversible if it persists for more than a year. Over time, in these situations, treatment plans to manage your condition will be the best strategy.
This can be achieved by:
- Masking device: This device goes in your ear much like a hearing aid, but it generates particular noises instead of making things louder. 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.
- Hearing aid: In a similar way to when you have 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: In some situations, therapy, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be used to help patients disregard the noise produced by their tinnitus. You accept that the noise is present, and then ignore it. It will take some therapy, practice, and time though.
Achieving the desired result will, in some situations, call for additional therapies. Clearing up the tinnitus will often require treatment to the root concussion. The best course of action will depend on the status of your concussion and your TBI. In this regard, a precise diagnosis is key.
Consult us about what the ideal treatment plan may look like for you.
TBI-caused tinnitus can be controlled
Your life can be traumatically impacted by a concussion. When you get concussed, it’s a bad day! And if your ears are ringing, you might ask yourself, why do I have ringing in my ears after a car crash?
Tinnitus may emerge immediately or in the following days. However, it’s important to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be managed effectively. Schedule a consultation with us right away.