You Know when you’re viewing an action movie and the hero has a thunderous explosion close by and their ears start ringing? Well, at least some degree of minor brain trauma has likely happened to them.
To be sure, brain injuries aren’t the part that most action movies focus on. 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 trigger this condition.
After all, one of the most common traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And they can occur for numerous reasons (for instance, falls, sporting accidents, and motor vehicle crashes). How something such as a concussion causes tinnitus can be, well, complex. Fortunately, treating and managing your conditions is usually very attainable.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a specific kind of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Think about it this way: your brain is situated pretty tightly into your skull (your brain is large, and your skull is there to protect it). When something 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 smash 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 leads to a concussion. When you picture this, it makes it easy to see how a concussion is literally brain damage. Here are a few symptoms of a concussion:
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of memory and confusion
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Slurred speech
This list isn’t complete, but you get the idea. Symptoms from a concussion can last anywhere between a few weeks and a few months. Brain injury from one concussion is typically not permanent, most people will end up making a complete recovery. But repeated concussions can cause permanent brain damage.
How do concussions cause tinnitus?
Can a concussion mess with your hearing? Really?
It’s an intriguing question: what is the connection between concussions and tinnitus? Because it’s more correct to say that traumatic brain injuries (even minor ones) can result in tinnitus, It isn’t only concussions. Even minor brain injuries can result in that ringing in your ears. That might happen in a few ways:
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: This kind of concussion happens when the inner ear is damaged as a result of your TBI. This damage can create inflammation and lead to both hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some situations, harm the parts of the brain that manage hearing. When this occurs, the messages that get sent from your ear cannot be correctly dealt with, and tinnitus might occur as a result.
- Damage to your hearing: Enduring an explosion at close distance is the cause of concussions and TBIs for many members of the military. Irreversible hearing loss can be triggered when the stereocilia in your ears are injured by the incredibly loud shock wave of an explosion. So it isn’t so much that the concussion brought about tinnitus, it’s that the tinnitus and concussion have the same root cause.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: The onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be caused by a TBI. This is caused by an accumulation of pressure within the inner ear. Sooner or later, Meniere’s syndrome can result in significant tinnitus and hearing loss.
- Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is responsible for sending sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can damage.
- Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three bones in your ear that help transfer sounds to your brain. A major impact (the kind that can trigger a concussion, for instance) can jostle these bones out of position. This can disrupt your ability to hear and cause tinnitus.
Of course it’s significant to keep in mind that no two brain injuries are exactly alike. Individualized care and instructions, from us, will be provided to every patient. You should certainly contact us for an assessment if you think you might have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
When you suffer from a concussion and tinnitus is the consequence, how can it be addressed?
Most often, tinnitus caused by a concussion or traumatic brain injury will be temporary. How long does tinnitus last after a concussion? Weeks or months, sadly, could be the time period. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is long lasting if it lasts more than a year. In these situations, the treatment approach changes to controlling your symptoms over the long term.
Here are some ways to accomplish this:
- Masking device: This device goes in your ear much like a hearing aid, but it generates 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 pronounced because the rest of the world takes a back seat (as is the case with non-TBI-caused hearing loss, everything else gets quieter, so your tinnitus sounds louder). A hearing aid can help turn the volume up on everything else, assuring that your tinnitus fades into the background.
- Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to disregard the sound by engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You acknowledge that the noise is there, and then ignore it. This technique takes therapy and practice.
Achieving the expected result will, in some cases, require additional therapies. Clearing up the tinnitus will often call for treatment to the underlying concussion. The correct course of action will depend on the status of your concussion and your TBI. This means a precise diagnosis is extremely important in this regard.
Consult us about what the right treatment plan may look like for you.
TBI-triggered tinnitus can be controlled
A concussion can be a significant and traumatic event in your life. 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 may wonder why.
Tinnitus could surface instantly or in the following days. However, it’s essential to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be managed effectively. Call us today to make an appointment.