You Know when you’re watching an action movie and the hero has a thunderous explosion nearby and their ears begin to ring? Well, guess what: that likely means our hero sustained at least a mild traumatic brain injury!
To be certain, brain injuries aren’t the part that most action movies focus on. But that ringing in our hero’s ears represents a condition called tinnitus. Tinnitus is most often discussed from the perspective 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 (car accidents, sporting accidents, and falls, for instance). How something such as a concussion triggers tinnitus can be, well, complicated. Fortunately, treating and managing your conditions is typically very achievable.
Concussions, exactly what are they?
A concussion is brain trauma of a very distinct type. One way to think about it is that your brain is protected by fitting snuggly in your skull. 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 little amount of extra space in there.
This causes damage to your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be hit by your brain. And this is what leads to a concussion. This example makes it quite clear that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Here are a few symptoms of a concussion:
- Confusion and loss of memory
- Slurred speech
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Ringing in the ears
- Vomiting and nausea
Even though this list makes the point, it’s in no way exhaustive. Several weeks to several months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. When someone gets one concussion, they will usually make a complete recovery. But recurring concussions can result in irreversible brain damage.
How is tinnitus caused by a concussion?
Can a concussion interfere with your hearing? Really?
The question of concussions and tinnitus is an intriguing one. Because it’s more accurate to say that traumatic brain injuries (even mild ones) can cause tinnitus, it’s not only concussions. Even mild brain injuries can result in that ringing in your ears. That may happen in a couple of ways:
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: This kind of concussion happens 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: Experiencing an explosion at close distance is the cause of concussions and TBIs for lots of members of the military. Permanent hearing loss can be triggered when the stereocilia in your ears are damaged by the exceptionally 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.
- Nerve damage: A concussion might also trigger injury to the nerve that is responsible for transferring the sounds you hear to your brain.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: The onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be a consequence of a TBI. When pressure builds up in the inner ear this condition can occur. Substantial hearing loss and tinnitus can become a problem over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
- Disruption of communication: In some cases, the portion of your brain that manages hearing can become damaged by a concussion. When this happens, the messages that get transmitted from your ear can’t be precisely processed, and tinnitus might occur consequently.
- Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three bones in your ear that help send sounds to your brain. A substantial impact (the type that can trigger a concussion, for instance) can push these bones out of position. This can disrupt your ability to hear and cause tinnitus.
It’s important 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 definitely give us a call for an assessment if you think you may have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
When you suffer from a concussion and tinnitus is the result, how can it be addressed?
Typically, it will be a temporary challenge if tinnitus is the result of a concussion. After a concussion, how long can I anticipate my tinnitus to linger? Well, it could last weeks or possibly months. 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 best plan.
Here are some ways to accomplish this:
- 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. Hearing aids help your tinnitus fade into the background by turning the volume up on everything else.
- Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to ignore the sound by undertaking cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You accept that the noise is there, and then disregard 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 more loudly, it creates a distinct 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 actually want to hear.
In some situations, additional therapies may be necessary to accomplish the desired result. Getting rid of the tinnitus will often call for treatment to the root concussion. Depending on the nature of your concussion, there could be a number of possible courses of action. As a result, an accurate diagnosis is extremely important in this regard.
Find out what the right plan of treatment might be for you by getting in touch with us.
You can manage tinnitus caused by a TBI
A concussion can be a significant and traumatic situation in your life. When you get a concussion, it’s a bad day! And if you’ve been in a car accident and your ears are ringing, you might wonder why.
Tinnitus may surface instantly or in the following days. However, it’s important to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be successfully managed. Schedule a consultation with us today.