You Know when you’re watching an action movie and the hero has a thunderous explosion nearby and their ears start ringing? Well, at least some amount of minor brain trauma has likely happened to them.
Naturally, action movies don’t emphasize the brain injury part. But that high-pitched ringing is something called tinnitus. Normally, 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 prevalent traumatic brain injuries that occur. And they can occur for many reasons (for instance, falls, sporting accidents, and motor vehicle accidents). It can be a bit complex sorting out how a concussion can trigger tinnitus. But the good news is that even if you suffer a brain injury that triggers tinnitus, you can usually treat and manage your condition.
Concussions, exactly what are they?
A concussion is a particular form of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Think about it this way: your brain is situated fairly tightly into your skull (your brain is big, and your skull is there to protect it). When something comes along and shakes the head violently enough, your brain starts moving around in your skull. But your brain could wind up crashing into the inside of your skull because of the small amount of additional space in there.
This hurts your brain! The brain can hit one or more sides of your skull. And this is what causes a concussion. This illustration makes it quite clear that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Here are some symptoms of a concussion:
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Blurry vision or dizziness
- Loss of memory and confusion
- Ringing in the ears
- Slurred speech
- Nausea and vomiting
Although this list makes the point, it’s certainly not exhaustive. Symptoms from a concussion can continue anywhere between several weeks and a few months. Brain damage from one concussion is typically not permanent, most individuals will end up making a full recovery. But repeated concussions can cause permanent 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 intriguing one. After all, concussions aren’t the only brain traumas that can cause tinnitus symptoms. That ringing in your ears can be triggered by even mild brain injuries. That may happen in a couple of ways:
- Disruption of communication: In some cases, the part of your brain that controls hearing can become harmed by a concussion. As a result, the signals sent from the ear to your brain can’t be precisely digested and tinnitus can be the outcome.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: The onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be caused by a TBI. This is caused by an accumulation of pressure inside of the inner ear. Eventually, Meniere’s syndrome can lead to significant tinnitus and hearing loss.
- Damage to your hearing: For members of the armed forces, TBIs and concussions are often a result of proximity to an explosion. And explosions are very loud, the noise and the shock wave can damage the stereocilia in your ear, triggering hearing loss and tinnitus. So it isn’t so much that the concussion caused tinnitus, it’s that the tinnitus and concussion have the same root cause.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: This type of concussion happens when the inner ear is injured due to your TBI. This damage can produce inflammation and cause both hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: The transmission of sound to your brain is aided by three bones in your ear. These bones can be pushed out of place by a significant concussive, impactive event. This can disrupt your ability to hear and result in tinnitus.
- Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is responsible for transmitting sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can damage.
It’s important to stress that every traumatic brain injury and concussion is a bit different. Personalized care and instructions, from us, will be provided to every patient. You should certainly call us for an evaluation if you think you might have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
When you get a concussion and tinnitus is the consequence, how can it be addressed?
Most frequently, tinnitus caused by a concussion or traumatic brain injury will be short-term. How long can tinnitus linger after a concussion? Well, it might last weeks or possibly months. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is irreversible if it lasts more than a year. In these situations, the treatment approach changes to managing your symptoms over the long term.
Here are some ways to accomplish this:
- Therapy: In some situations, therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be utilized to help patients ignore the noise produced by their tinnitus. You acknowledge that the noise is there, and then ignore it. This technique requires therapy and practice.
- 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. Hearing aids help your tinnitus go into the background by turning the volume up on everything else.
- Masking device: This device goes inside your ear much like a hearing aid, but it produces particular noises instead of making things louder. This noise is customized to your tinnitus, overpowering the sound so you can pay attention to voices, or other sounds you really want to hear.
In some cases, additional therapies might be required to achieve the expected result. Management of the root concussion might be necessary in order to get rid of the tinnitus. Depending on the nature of your concussion, there could be several possible courses of action. As a result, an accurate diagnosis is extremely important in this regard.
Consult us about what the ideal treatment plan might look like for you.
You can manage tinnitus caused by a TBI
A concussion can be a substantial and traumatic event 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 may wonder why.
Tinnitus could surface instantly or in the days that follow. But you can effectively manage tinnitus after a crash and that’s significant to keep in mind. Schedule a consultation with us today.