You know that scene in your favorite action movie where something blows up near the hero and the sound gets all high-pitched-buzzing? Well, at least some degree of minor brain trauma has likely happened to them.
Obviously, action movies don’t emphasize the brain injury part. But that ringing in our hero’s ears signifies a condition called tinnitus. Tinnitus is most frequently discussed from the perspective of hearing loss, but it turns out that traumatic brain injuries like concussions can also lead to this particular ringing in the ears.
After all, one of the most common traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And they can happen for numerous reasons (car accidents, sporting accidents, and falls, for example). How something like a concussion causes tinnitus can be, well, complicated. Fortunately, treating and managing your conditions is usually very achievable.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a particular form of traumatic brain injury (TBI). One way to view it is that your brain is protected by fitting snuggly in your skull. When anything comes along and shakes the head violently enough, your brain begins moving around inside of your skull. But because there’s so little additional space in there, your brain may literally crash into the inside of your skull.
This hurts your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be hit by your brain. And this is what results in a concussion. This example makes it quite clear that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Symptoms of concussions include the following:
- Confusion and loss of memory
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Ringing in the ears
- Blurry vision or dizziness
- Slurred speech
- Vomiting and nausea
Although this list makes the point, it’s in no way exhaustive. A few weeks to a few months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. Brain injury from a single concussion is generally not permanent, most people will end up making a full recovery. But recurring concussions can cause permanent brain damage.
How do concussions cause tinnitus?
Is it actually possible that a concussion may affect your hearing?
It’s an intriguing question: what is the link between concussions and tinnitus? Not surprisingly, concussions won’t be the only brain traumas that can cause tinnitus symptoms. That ringing in your ears can be triggered by even minor brain injuries. That might occur in a couple of ways:
- Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some situations, harm the portions of the brain that manage hearing. When this happens, the messages that get transmitted from your ear cannot be precisely dealt with, and tinnitus might occur consequently.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: When your TBI damages the inner ear this form of concussion occurs. Tinnitus and hearing loss, as a result of inflammation, can be the consequence of this damage.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: The onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be a consequence of a TBI. This is a result of an accumulation 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: Experiencing an explosion at close range is the cause of concussions and TBIs for many members of the military. And explosions are very loud, the sound and the shock wave can harm the stereocilia in your ear, causing hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t inevitably caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some common causes.
- Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three bones in your ear that help send sounds to your brain. A substantial impact (the kind that can cause a concussion, for example) can push these bones out of place. This can interrupt 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 harm.
Of course it’s important to keep in mind that no two brain injuries are exactly the same. Individualized care and instructions, from us, will be provided to every patient. You should certainly give us a call for an evaluation if you believe you might have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
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. After a concussion, how long can I expect my tinnitus to last? Weeks or months, unfortunately, could be the time period. Then again, if your tinnitus has lasted for more than a year, it’s likely to be permanent. Over time, in these circumstances, treatment plans to manage your condition will be the best strategy.
Here are some ways to accomplish this:
- Hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes prominent because the rest of the world goes into the background (as is the case with non-TBI-caused hearing loss, everything else becomes quieter, so your tinnitus sounds louder). Hearing aids help your tinnitus fade into the background by turning up the volume on everything else.
- Therapy: In some situations, therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be used to help patients ignore the noise caused by their tinnitus. You disregard the sound after accepting it. This technique takes therapy and practice.
- Masking device: This device goes in your ear a lot like a hearing aid, but it creates particular noises instead of making things louder. Your specific tinnitus symptoms determine what sound the device will generate helping you disregard the tinnitus sounds and be better able to pay attention to voices and other outside sounds.
In some cases, additional therapies may be necessary to obtain the expected result. Clearing up the tinnitus will frequently require treatment to the root concussion. Depending on the status of your concussion, there could be a number of possible courses of action. In this regard, an accurate diagnosis is key.
Learn what the right plan of treatment might be for you by giving us a call.
TBI-triggered tinnitus can be controlled
A concussion can be a substantial and traumatic situation in your life. It’s never a good day when you get concussed! And if you’ve been in a car crash and your ears are ringing, you might wonder why.
Tinnitus may surface immediately or in the days that follow. But you can effectively control tinnitus after a crash and that’s important to keep in mind. Call us today to make an appointment.