You know that scene in your favorite action movie where something blows up near the hero and the sound goes all high-pitched-buzzing? Well, at least some level of mild brain trauma has likely happened to them.
Naturally, action movies don’t emphasize the brain injury part. 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 most common traumatic brain injuries that occur. And there are quite a few reasons concussions can occur (car crashes, sports accidents, and falls, for instance). How something such as a concussion causes tinnitus can be, well, complex. Luckily, 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 fitting snuggly in your skull. The brain will begin to move around in your skull when something shakes your head violently. But because there’s so little additional space in there, your brain could literally smash into the inside of your skull.
This causes harm to your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be hit by your brain. And when this occurs, you get a concussion. When you picture this, it makes it simple to understand how a concussion is literally brain damage. Here are a few symptoms of a concussion:
- Slurred speech
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Vomiting and nausea
- Loss of memory and confusion
Even though this list makes the point, it’s certainly not exhaustive. A few weeks to several months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. Brain damage from a single concussion is typically not permanent, most people will end up making a full recovery. But recurring concussions can lead to permanent brain damage.
How is tinnitus caused by a concussion?
Is it actually feasible that a concussion could affect your hearing?
The matter of concussions and tinnitus is an intriguing one. Because it’s more accurate to say that traumatic brain injuries (even mild ones) can bring about tinnitus, It isn’t just concussions. That ringing in your ears can be set off by even mild brain injuries. Here are a few ways that might happen:
- Meniere’s Syndrome: A TBI can cause the development of a condition called Meniere’s Syndrome. When pressure builds up in the inner ear this condition can happen. Substantial 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 armed forces. And explosions are incredibly loud, the noise and the shock wave can harm the stereocilia in your ear, triggering hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t inevitably caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some common causes.
- Nerve damage: A concussion might also cause damage to the nerve that is responsible for transferring the sounds you hear to your brain.
- Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: The transmission of sound to your brain is aided by three bones in your ear. A major impact (the kind that can trigger a concussion, for instance) can push these bones out of place. Tinnitus can be triggered by this and it can also interrupt your hearing.
- Disruption of communication: In some cases, the portion of your brain that manages hearing can become harmed by a concussion. Consequently, the signals sent from the ear to your brain can’t be precisely processed and tinnitus can be the outcome.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: This form of concussion takes place when the inner ear is damaged due to your TBI. This damage can produce inflammation and lead to both hearing loss and tinnitus.
Of course it’s important to note that no two brain injuries are exactly alike. Individualized care and instructions, from us, will be given to every patient. Certainly, if you think you have suffered a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you need to call us for an evaluation right away.
When you get a concussion and tinnitus is the consequence, how can it be managed?
Most often, tinnitus related to a concussion or traumatic brain damage will be short-term. How long does tinnitus last after a concussion? Weeks or months, unfortunately, could be the time period. However, if your tinnitus has lasted for more than a year, it’s likely to be permanent. In these situations, the treatment plan changes to managing your symptoms over the long run.
Here are some ways to achieve this:
- Hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes prominent because the rest of the world takes a back seat (as is the situation with non-TBI-caused hearing loss, everything else gets quieter, so your tinnitus seems louder). Hearing aids help your tinnitus fade into the background by turning the volume up on everything else.
- Masking device: This device is similar to a hearing aid, but instead of helping you hear things louder, it creates a distinct noise in your ear. This noise is customized to your tinnitus, drowning out the sound so you can pay attention to voices, or other sounds you actually want to hear.
- Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to overlook the sound by engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You disregard the sound after accepting it. This technique requires therapy and practice.
Obtaining the expected result will, in some situations, require additional therapies. Clearing up the tinnitus will frequently require treatment to the underlying concussion. Depending on the nature of your concussion, there could be a number of possible courses of action. This means a precise diagnosis is extremely important in this regard.
Talk to us about what the ideal treatment plan might look like for you.
You can manage tinnitus caused by a TBI
Your life can be traumatically impacted by a concussion. 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 may emerge immediately or in the following days. However, it’s important to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be successfully managed. Contact us today to make an appointment.