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.
Obviously, action movies don’t highlight the brain injury part. But that ringing in our hero’s ears signifies a condition called tinnitus. Tinnitus is most frequently talked about 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.
Concussions, after all, are one of the most prevalent traumatic brain injuries that happen. And they can occur for numerous reasons (car crashes, sporting accidents, and falls, for example). How something such as a concussion causes tinnitus can be, well, complex. But here’s the good news: even if you suffer a brain injury that causes tinnitus, you can normally treat and manage your condition.
Concussions, exactly what are they?
A concussion is brain trauma of a very specific type. One way to view it is that your brain is protected by fitting tightly in your skull. The brain will begin to move around in your skull when something shakes your head violently. But your brain could end up crashing 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 hit one or more sides of your skull. And when this occurs, you get a concussion. This illustration makes it quite clear that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Here are a few symptoms of a concussion:
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Slurred speech
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- Confusion and loss of memory
- Vomiting and nausea
- Ringing in the ears
Even though this list makes the point, it’s certainly not exhaustive. Symptoms from a concussion can continue anywhere between several weeks and several months. When somebody gets a single concussion, they will typically make a full recovery. But repeated concussions can lead to permanent brain damage.
How is tinnitus triggered by a concussion?
Can a concussion interfere with your hearing? Really?
The matter of concussions and tinnitus is an interesting one. Because it’s more accurate to say that traumatic brain injuries (even minor ones) can bring about tinnitus, it’s not only concussions. That ringing in your ears can be activated by even mild brain injuries. That may happen in a couple of ways:
- Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: The transmission of sound to your brain is aided by three bones in your ear. A major impact (the type that can cause a concussion, for example) can jostle these bones out of position. Tinnitus can be triggered by this and it can also interrupt your ability to hear.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: When your TBI injures the inner ear this type of concussion occurs. Tinnitus and hearing loss, due to inflammation, can be the consequence of this damage.
- Damage to your hearing: For members of the armed forces, TBIs and concussions are frequently related to proximity to an explosion. And explosions are really 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 root causes.
- Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some situations, harm the portions of the brain that manage hearing. When this happens, the messages that get sent from your ear can’t be properly processed, and tinnitus may occur consequently.
- 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: A TBI can cause the onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome. This is a consequence of the buildup of pressure within the inner ear. Significant hearing loss and tinnitus can become a problem over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
Of course it’s significant to keep in mind that no two brain injuries are exactly the same. Personalized care and instructions, from us, will be given to every patient. You should definitely contact us for an evaluation if you believe you may have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
When you get a concussion and tinnitus is the consequence, how can it be addressed?
Usually, it will be a temporary challenge if tinnitus is the result of a concussion. After a concussion, how long can I expect my tinnitus to last? Well, it could last weeks or months. However, if your tinnitus has lingered for more than a year, it’s likely to be irreversible. In these circumstances, the treatment plan transitions to managing your symptoms over the long run.
Here are some ways to accomplish this:
- Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to overlook the sound by engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You disregard the sound after accepting it. It will require some therapy, practice, and time though.
- Masking device: This device goes inside your ear much like a hearing aid, but it creates 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 actually want to hear.
- Hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes prominent because the rest of the world goes into the background (as is the situation with non-TBI-caused hearing loss, everything else becomes quieter, so your tinnitus seems louder). A hearing aid can help turn the volume up on everything else, ensuring that your tinnitus fades into the background.
Achieving the expected result will, in some cases, call for added therapies. Management of the root concussion may be necessary in order to get rid of the tinnitus. The best course of action will depend on the nature of your concussion and your TBI. This means a precise diagnosis is incredibly important in this regard.
Learn what the best plan of treatment may be for you by getting in touch with us.
TBI-caused tinnitus can be managed
Your life can be traumatically affected by a concussion. It’s never a good day when you get concussed! And if you’ve been in a car accident 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 important to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be successfully managed. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment.