You Know when you’re viewing an action movie and the hero has a thunderous explosion nearby and their ears start ringing? Well, guess what: that most likely means our hero suffered at least a mild traumatic brain injury!
Naturally, action movies don’t highlight the brain injury part. But that high-pitched ringing is something called tinnitus. Usually, hearing loss is the subject of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also cause this condition.
After all, one of the most common traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And they can occur for a wide variety of reasons (car crashes, sports accidents, and falls, for example). How something such as a concussion triggers tinnitus can be, well, complicated. Fortunately, treating and managing your conditions is typically very attainable.
Concussions, exactly what are they?
A concussion is a particular type of traumatic brain injury (TBI). One way to view it is that your brain is protected by sitting snuggly in your skull. When anything occurs and shakes the head violently enough, your brain starts moving around inside of your skull. But your brain could end up crashing into the inside of your skull because of the little amount of additional space in there.
This harms your brain! The brain can hit one or more sides of your skull. And this is what results in a concussion. When you picture this, it makes it easy to understand how a concussion is literally brain damage. Symptoms of concussions include the following:
- Ringing in the ears
- Nausea and vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Blurry vision or dizziness
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Confusion and loss of memory
This list is not exhaustive, but you get the idea. 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, repeated or multiple concussions are a bigger problem (generally, it’s a good idea to avoid these).
How do concussions cause tinnitus?
Can a concussion interfere with your hearing? Really?
It’s an interesting question: what is the link between concussions and tinnitus? Because it’s more accurate to say that traumatic brain injuries (even minor ones) can bring about tinnitus, It isn’t just concussions. Even minor brain injuries can lead to that ringing in your ears. That may happen in a couple of ways:
- Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is in charge of transmitting sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can damage.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: The development of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be caused by a TBI. This is a result of the buildup of pressure within the inner ear. Significant hearing loss and tinnitus can become an issue over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
- Damage to your hearing: Enduring an explosion at close distance is the cause of concussions and TBIs for many members of the military. And explosions are incredibly loud, the noise and the shock wave can damage the stereocilia in your ear, triggering hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some common causes.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: This type of concussion takes place when the inner ear is injured due to your TBI. Tinnitus and hearing loss, as a result of inflammation, can be the result of this damage.
- Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: The relaying of sound to your brain is assisted by three tiny bones in your ear. These bones can be pushed out of place by a significant concussive, impactive event. This can interrupt your ability to hear and cause tinnitus.
- Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some cases, damage the portions of the brain that manage hearing. As a result, the signals sent from the ear to your brain can’t be properly processed and tinnitus can result.
Of course it’s significant to keep in mind that no two brain injuries are precisely the same. Every patient will get individualized care and instructions from us. Indeed, if you think you have suffered a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you need to call us for an assessment as soon as possible.
How do you treat tinnitus from a concussion?
Most frequently, tinnitus related to a concussion or traumatic brain damage will be temporary. After a concussion, how long can I expect my tinnitus to linger? Weeks or possibly months, unfortunately, could be the time period. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is long lasting if it persists for more than a year. Over time, in these situations, treatment plans to manage your condition will be the optimal plan.
Here are some ways to accomplish this:
- Masking device: This device is a lot like a hearing aid, only instead of helping you hear things louder, it produces a specific noise in your ear. This noise is custom tailored to your tinnitus, drowning out the sound so you can focus on voices, or other sounds you actually want to hear.
- Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to disregard the sound by undertaking cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You disregard the sound after acknowledging it. It will take some therapy, practice, and time though.
- Hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes pronounced because the rest of the world takes a back seat (as is the case 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.
In some cases, further therapies may be required to accomplish the desired result. Treatment of the underlying concussion may be required in order to make the tinnitus go away. The right course of action will depend on the status of your concussion and your TBI. In this regard, an accurate diagnosis is key.
Consult us about what the ideal treatment plan might look like for you.
TBI-triggered tinnitus can be controlled
Your life can be traumatically affected by a concussion. 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.
Tinnitus may emerge instantly or in the following days. However, it’s essential to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be successfully managed. Call us today to schedule an appointment.