You know that scene in your favorite action movie where something explodes near the hero and the sound gets all high-pitched-buzzing? Well, at least some amount of minor brain trauma has likely happened to them.
Naturally, action movies don’t highlight the brain injury part. But that high-pitched ringing is something known as 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 most common traumatic brain injuries that occur. And there are a number of reasons concussions can occur (for instance, falls, sporting accidents, and motor vehicle crashes). It can be somewhat complicated sorting out how a concussion can trigger tinnitus. Luckily, treating and managing your conditions is typically very attainable.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a specific type of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Think about it this way: your brain is nestled pretty tightly inside your skull (your brain is large, and your skull is there to protect it). When anything comes along and shakes the head violently enough, your brain starts moving around inside of 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 causes damage to your brain! The brain can impact one or more sides of your skull. 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 some symptoms of a concussion:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Ringing in the ears
- Confusion and loss of memory
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Slurred speech
- Dizziness and blurred vision
Although this list makes the point, it’s by no means exhaustive. Symptoms from a concussion can continue anywhere between a few weeks and several months. When someone gets one concussion, they will normally make a complete recovery. However, repetitive 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 intriguing question: what is the connection between tinnitus and concussions? Because it’s more accurate to say that traumatic brain injuries (even mild ones) can lead to tinnitus, it’s not only concussions. Even mild brain injuries can result in that ringing in your ears. Here are a few ways that might happen:
- Meniere’s Syndrome: The development of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be a consequence of a TBI. This is caused by an accumulation of pressure inside of the inner ear. Sooner or later, Meniere’s syndrome can result in noticeable tinnitus and hearing loss.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: This form of concussion happens when the inner ear is injured as a result of your TBI. Tinnitus and hearing loss, as a result of inflammation, can be the consequence of this damage.
- Disruption of communication: In some cases, the part of your brain that controls hearing can become damaged by a concussion. As a result, the signals sent from the ear to your brain can’t be correctly digested and tinnitus can result.
- Nerve damage: A concussion might also trigger damage to the nerve that is responsible for transferring the sounds you hear to your brain.
- Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three bones in your ear that help send sounds to your brain. These bones can be knocked out of place by a significant concussive, impactive event. Tinnitus can be caused by this and it can also disrupt your ability to hear.
- Damage to your hearing: Experiencing an explosion at close distance is the cause of concussions and TBIs for many members of the armed forces. Permanent hearing loss can be triggered when the stereocilia in your ears are injured by the exceptionally noisy shock wave of an explosion. So it isn’t so much that the concussion caused tinnitus, it’s that the tinnitus and concussion have the same underlying cause.
It’s significant 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. Indeed, if you think you have suffered a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you should call us for an evaluation right away.
When you get a concussion and tinnitus is the consequence, how can it be addressed?
Most frequently, tinnitus related to a concussion or traumatic brain damage will be short-term. After a concussion, how long can I expect my tinnitus to linger? Weeks or possibly months, sadly, could be the time period. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is irreversible if it persists for more than a year. Over time, in these situations, treatment plans to manage your condition will be the best strategy.
Here are some ways to accomplish this:
- Therapy: In some cases, therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be utilized to help patients disregard the noise caused by their tinnitus. You ignore the sound after accepting it. It will take some therapy, practice, and time though.
- 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. A hearing aid can help raise the volume of everything else, ensuring that your tinnitus fades into the background.
- Masking device: This device goes in your ear a lot like a hearing aid, but it produces specific noises instead of making things louder. Your specific tinnitus symptoms dictate 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 situations, further therapies may be required to accomplish the expected result. Getting rid of the tinnitus will frequently require treatment to the underlying concussion. Depending on the status of your concussion, there could be several possible courses of action. As a result, a precise diagnosis is extremely important in this regard.
Learn what the right plan of treatment might be for you by getting in touch with us.
TBI-triggered tinnitus can be managed
Your life can be traumatically impacted by a concussion. It’s never a good day when you get a concussion! And if you’ve been in a car accident and your ears are ringing, you might wonder why.
Tinnitus could emerge immediately or in the following days. But you can successfully control tinnitus after a crash and that’s important to keep in mind. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.