You Know when you’re watching an action movie and the hero has a loud explosion close by and their ears start ringing? Well, at least some amount of minor 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. 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 more common traumatic brain injuries that occur. And they can occur for many reasons (car crashes, sporting accidents, and falls, for example). How something like a concussion causes tinnitus can be, well, complicated. Luckily, treating and managing your conditions is usually very attainable.
Concussions, exactly what are they?
A concussion is a specific type of traumatic brain injury (TBI). One way to think about it is that your brain is protected by sitting 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 smashing into the inside of your skull because of the little amount of additional space in there.
This causes damage to your brain! The brain can impact one or more sides of your skull. And when this happens, you get a concussion. This illustration makes it quite evident that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Here are some symptoms of a concussion:
- Ringing in the ears
- Blurry vision or dizziness
- Slurred speech
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Loss of memory and confusion
- Nausea and vomiting
Even though this list makes the point, it’s certainly not exhaustive. Symptoms from a concussion can last anywhere between several weeks and a few months. Brain damage from a single concussion is typically not permanent, most people will end up making a complete recovery. But recurring concussions can lead to irreversible brain damage.
How is tinnitus triggered by a concussion?
Can a concussion mess with your hearing? Really?
The question of concussions and tinnitus is an interesting 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. Here are a few ways that may happen:
- Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three tiny bones in your ear that help transmit sounds to your brain. A major impact (the kind that can trigger a concussion, for example) can jostle these bones out of position. This can disrupt your ability to hear and cause tinnitus.
- Damage to your hearing: Experiencing an explosion at close range is the cause of concussions and TBIs for many members of the military. Irreversible hearing loss can be caused when the stereocilia in your ears are damaged by the exceptionally noisy shock wave of an explosion. Tinnitus isn’t always caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some common causes.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: The onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be a consequence of a TBI. This is caused by an accumulation of pressure inside of the inner ear. Eventually, Meniere’s syndrome can lead to noticeable tinnitus and hearing loss.
- Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some instances, harm the portions of the brain that manage hearing. Consequently, the signals sent from the ear to your brain can’t be properly processed and tinnitus can be the outcome.
- Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is in charge of sending sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can damage.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: This kind of concussion occurs when the inner ear is injured due to your TBI. This damage can produce inflammation and cause both hearing loss and tinnitus.
Of course it’s significant to keep in mind that no two brain injuries are exactly the same. Every patient will get individualized care and instructions from us. Certainly, if you think you have suffered a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you should call us for an evaluation right away.
When you suffer from a concussion and tinnitus is the consequence, how can it be treated?
Most frequently, tinnitus related to a concussion or traumatic brain injury will be temporary. How long does tinnitus linger after a concussion? Weeks or months, sadly, could be the time period. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is long lasting if it lasts more than a year. In these cases, the treatment strategy changes to controlling your symptoms over the long run.
Here are some ways to achieve this:
- Hearing aid: In a similar way to when you have 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, assuring that your tinnitus fades into the background.
- Therapy: In some cases, therapy, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be used to help patients disregard the noise caused by their tinnitus. You disregard the sound after acknowledging it. This technique takes therapy and practice.
- Masking device: This device goes in your ear much like a hearing aid, but it creates particular noises instead of making things louder. This noise is customized to your tinnitus, drowning out the sound so you can focus on voices, or other sounds you really want to hear.
In some cases, further therapies might be required to accomplish the expected result. Treatment of the underlying concussion may be required in order to make the tinnitus go away. Depending on the status of your concussion, there may be a number of possible courses of action. In this regard, a precise diagnosis is key.
Consult us about what the ideal treatment plan may look like for you.
You can control tinnitus caused by a TBI
A concussion can be a substantial and traumatic situation in your life. When you get concussed, it’s a bad day! And if you’ve been in a car crash and your ears are ringing, you might wonder why.
It could be days later or immediately after the crash that tinnitus symptoms surface. However, it’s essential to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be managed effectively. Schedule a consultation with us today.