You know that scene in your favorite action movie where something blows up next to the hero and the sound goes all high-pitched-buzzing? Well, guess what: that probably means our hero sustained at least a mild traumatic brain injury!
Naturally, action movies don’t emphasize the brain injury part. But that high-pitched ringing is something 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.
Concussions, after all, are one of the most common traumatic brain injuries that happen. And there are a number of reasons concussions can happen (for example, falls, sporting accidents, and motor vehicle crashes). It can be a bit complex sorting out how a concussion can trigger tinnitus. Luckily, treating and managing your conditions is usually very achievable.
Concussions, exactly what are they?
A concussion is brain trauma of a very distinct type. Think about it this way: your brain is nestled pretty tightly inside your skull (your brain is big, and your skull is there to protect it). When anything occurs and shakes the head violently enough, your brain begins moving around in your skull. But your brain could wind up crashing into the inside of your skull because of the little amount of additional space in there.
This causes damage to your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be impacted by your brain. And this is what causes a concussion. When you picture this, it makes it simple to see how a concussion is quite literally brain damage. Here are some symptoms of a concussion:
- Slurred speech
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Ringing in the ears
- Confusion and loss of memory
This list is not exhaustive, but you get the idea. Symptoms from a concussion can continue anywhere between a few weeks and a few months. When someone gets one concussion, they will normally make a full recovery. However, repetitive or multiple concussions are a bigger problem (generally, it’s a good idea to avoid these).
How is tinnitus caused by a concussion?
Can a concussion mess with your hearing? Really?
It’s an intriguing question: what is the connection between tinnitus and concussions? After all, concussions won’t be the only brain traumas that can trigger tinnitus symptoms. That ringing in your ears can be triggered by even mild brain injuries. That may occur in a few ways:
- Damage to your hearing: Enduring an explosion at close distance is the cause of concussions and TBIs for lots of members of the armed forces. Permanent hearing loss can be caused when the stereocilia in your ears are damaged by the tremendously loud shock wave of an explosion. Tinnitus isn’t always caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some common causes.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: A TBI can cause the onset of a condition called Meniere’s Syndrome. This is a consequence of the buildup of pressure inside of the inner ear. Significant hearing loss and tinnitus can become an issue over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
- Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three bones in your ear that help transfer sounds to your brain. These bones can be knocked out of place by a significant concussive, impactive event. This can disrupt your ability to hear and cause tinnitus.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: This form of concussion takes place when the inner ear is damaged as a result of your TBI. This damage can create inflammation and cause both hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some situations, damage the portions of the brain that manage hearing. When this occurs, the messages that get transmitted from your ear cannot be precisely dealt with, and tinnitus may occur as a result.
- Nerve damage: A concussion might also cause injury to the nerve that is in charge of transferring the sounds you hear to your brain.
It’s important to emphasize that every traumatic brain injury and concussion is a little different. Personalized care and instructions, from us, will be provided to every patient. Indeed, if you think you have experienced 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 managed?
Most frequently, tinnitus triggered by 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 frame. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is irreversible if it lasts more than a year. Over time, in these circumstances, treatment plans to manage your condition will be the optimal strategy.
Here are some ways to accomplish this:
- Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to disregard the sound by undertaking cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You ignore the sound after acknowledging it. This technique takes therapy and practice.
- Masking device: This device is similar to a hearing aid, but instead of helping you hear things more loudly, it produces a distinct noise in your ear. This noise is customized to your tinnitus, drowning out the sound so you can focus on voices, or other sounds you actually want to hear.
- Hearing aid: In a similar way to when you’re dealing with 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.
Achieving the desired result will, in some cases, call for additional therapies. Getting rid of the tinnitus will frequently require treatment to the root concussion. Depending on the nature of your concussion, there may be a number of possible courses of action. In this regard, a precise diagnosis is key.
Consult us about what the ideal treatment plan might look like for you.
TBI-caused tinnitus can be controlled
A concussion can be a significant and traumatic situation in your life. When you get concussed, it’s a bad day! And if your ears are ringing, you might ask yourself, why do I have ringing in my ears after a car crash?
Tinnitus may surface immediately or in the days that follow. However, it’s important to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be successfully managed. Schedule a consultation with us right away.