You Know when you’re watching an action movie and the hero has a thunderous explosion nearby and their ears begin to ring? Well, at least some amount of mild brain trauma has likely happened to them.
Naturally, action movies don’t highlight the brain injury part. But that ringing in our hero’s ears signifies a condition called tinnitus. Tinnitus is most often talked about from the perspective of hearing loss, but actually, 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 occur for many reasons (for instance, falls, sports accidents, and motor vehicle crashes). It can be a bit complex sorting out how a concussion can trigger tinnitus. But here’s the good news: even if you sustain a brain injury that triggers tinnitus, you can usually treat and manage your condition.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a particular kind of traumatic brain injury (TBI). One way to think about it is that your brain is protected by fitting tightly in your skull. The brain will begin to move around inside your skull when something shakes your head violently. But because there’s so little extra space in there, your brain could literally crash into the inside of your skull.
This causes damage to your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be impacted by your brain. And this is what brings about a concussion. This example makes it quite clear that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Here are some symptoms of a concussion:
- Blurry vision or dizziness
- Ringing in the ears
- Slurred speech
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Vomiting and nausea
- Loss of memory and confusion
This list is not exhaustive, but you get the point. Symptoms from a concussion can last anywhere between several weeks and several months. Brain injury from a single concussion is typically not permanent, most individuals will end up making a full recovery. But recurring concussions can cause permanent brain damage.
How is tinnitus caused by a concussion?
Is it actually feasible that a concussion may impact your hearing?
The matter of concussions and tinnitus is an intriguing one. Not surprisingly, concussions aren’t the only brain traumas that can cause tinnitus symptoms. That ringing in your ears can be set off by even mild brain injuries. Here are a few ways that might happen:
- Disruption of communication: In some instances, the part of your brain that controls hearing can become damaged by a concussion. As a result, the messages sent from the ear to your brain can’t be precisely processed and tinnitus can result.
- Damage to your hearing: For members of the armed forces, TBIs and concussions are frequently caused by distance to an explosion. And explosions are incredibly loud, the sound and the shock wave can damage 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.
- Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: The transmission of sound to your brain is aided by three tiny bones in your ear. A significant impact (the type that can trigger a concussion, for instance) can push these bones out of position. This can interrupt your ability to hear and cause tinnitus.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: This type of concussion takes place when the inner ear is damaged due to your TBI. This damage can create inflammation and lead to both hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is in charge of sending sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can harm.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: The development of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be caused by a TBI. This is caused by the buildup of pressure inside of the inner ear. Substantial hearing loss and tinnitus can become an issue over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
It’s important to emphasize that every traumatic brain injury and concussion is a bit different. Individualized care and instructions, from us, will be provided to every patient. Certainly, if you think you have suffered a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you should call us for an evaluation as soon as possible.
How do you manage tinnitus caused by a concussion?
Usually, it will be a temporary challenge if tinnitus is the consequence of a concussion. How long does tinnitus last after a concussion? Well, it might last weeks or possibly months. Then again, if your tinnitus has lasted for more than a year, it’s likely to be permanent. In these cases, the treatment approach transitions to controlling your symptoms over the long run.
Here are some ways to accomplish this:
- Masking device: This device goes inside your ear much like a hearing aid, but it produces particular noises instead of making things louder. This noise is custom tailored to your tinnitus, overpowering 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 undertaking cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You ignore the sound after acknowledging it. This technique requires therapy and practice.
- 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.
In some situations, further therapies might be necessary to obtain the desired result. Management of the underlying concussion may be required in order to make the tinnitus go away. The right course of action will depend on the status of your concussion and your TBI. In this regard, an accurate diagnosis is key.
Consult us about what the right treatment plan may look like for you.
TBI-triggered tinnitus can be managed
Your life can be traumatically affected by a concussion. It’s never a good day when you get a concussion! And if your ears are ringing, you might ask yourself, why are my ears ringing after a car crash?
Tinnitus could surface immediately or in the days that follow. But you can effectively manage tinnitus after a crash and that’s important to keep in mind. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment.