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Concussions & Tinnitus: What’s the Link?

Woman with hands on her head suffering from concussion related tinnitus.

You know that scene in your favorite action movie where something blows up near the hero and the sound gets all high-pitched-buzzing? Well, guess what: that probably means our hero sustained at least a minor traumatic brain injury!

To be sure, brain injuries aren’t the part that most action movies linger on. But that ringing in our hero’s ears signifies a condition called tinnitus. Tinnitus is most often discussed in the context of hearing loss, but it turns out that traumatic brain injuries like concussions can also cause this particular ringing in the ears.

Concussions, after all, are one of the most common traumatic brain injuries that occur. And there are quite a few reasons concussions can happen (car accidents, sports accidents, and falls, for instance). How something like a concussion triggers tinnitus can be, well, complex. But the good news is that even if you suffer a brain injury that triggers tinnitus, you can normally treat and manage your condition.

Concussions, exactly what are they?

A concussion is a specific form of traumatic brain injury (TBI). One way to think about it is that your brain is protected by fitting tightly in your skull. When anything occurs 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 extra space in there.

This causes damage to your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be hit by your brain. And this is what causes a concussion. When you visualize this, it makes it simple to see how a concussion is literally brain damage. Symptoms of concussions include the following:

  • Ringing in the ears
  • Dizziness and blurred vision
  • A slow or delayed response to questions
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of memory and confusion
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting

This list is not exhaustive, but you get the point. A few weeks to a few months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. When somebody gets one concussion, they will typically make a complete recovery. However, repeated or multiple concussions are a bigger problem (generally speaking, it’s the best idea to avoid these).

How is tinnitus triggered by a concussion?

Is it actually feasible that a concussion may affect your hearing?

The question of concussions and tinnitus is an interesting one. Not surprisingly, concussions are not the only brain traumas that can cause tinnitus symptoms. That ringing in your ears can be activated by even minor brain injuries. Here are a few ways that could take place:

  • Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some situations, harm the parts of the brain that manage hearing. As a result, the signals sent from the ear to your brain can’t be properly processed and tinnitus can result.
  • Meniere’s Syndrome: The development of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be caused by a TBI. This is caused by an accumulation of pressure inside of the inner ear. Significant hearing loss and tinnitus can become a problem over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
  • Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three bones in your ear that help transmit sounds to your brain. These bones can be pushed out of place by a substantial concussive, impactive event. This can interrupt your ability to hear and cause tinnitus.
  • Damage to your hearing: For members of the military, TBIs and concussions are often a result of proximity to an explosion. Permanent hearing loss can be triggered when the stereocilia in your ears are damaged by the exceptionally loud shock wave of an explosion. Tinnitus isn’t inevitably caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some root causes.
  • Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is in charge of sending sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can harm.
  • A “labyrinthine” concussion: This type of concussion takes place when the inner ear is injured as a result of your TBI. Tinnitus and hearing loss, as a result of inflammation, can be the result of this damage.

Of course it’s important to note that no two brain injuries are precisely alike. Personalized care and instructions, from us, will be given to every patient. Indeed, if you think you have experienced a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you need to call us for an assessment as soon as possible.

How do you treat tinnitus from a concussion?

Most frequently, tinnitus triggered by a concussion or traumatic brain damage will be short-term. How long can tinnitus last after a concussion? Weeks or possibly months, unfortunately, could be the time period. However, if your tinnitus has lingered for more than a year, it’s likely to be long lasting. Over time, in these circumstances, treatment plans to manage your condition will be the best plan.

Here are some ways to achieve this:

  • Hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes dominant because the rest of the world goes into the background (as is the situation with non-TBI-caused hearing loss, everything else becomes quieter, so your tinnitus seems louder). A hearing aid can help raise the volume of everything else, assuring that your tinnitus fades into the background.
  • Masking device: This device goes in your ear a lot like a hearing aid, but it generates particular noises instead of amplifying things. Your particular tinnitus symptoms dictate what sound the device will generate helping you ignore the tinnitus sounds and be better able to pay attention to voices and other outside sounds.
  • Therapy: In some cases, therapy, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be utilized to help patients ignore the noise produced by their tinnitus. You ignore the sound after accepting it. This technique requires therapy and practice.

Obtaining the expected result will, in some cases, call for added therapies. Getting rid of the tinnitus will often require treatment to the root concussion. The best course of action will depend on the status of your concussion and your TBI. In this regard, a precise diagnosis is key.

Consult us about what the right treatment plan might look like for you.

You can manage tinnitus caused by a TBI

A concussion can be a significant and traumatic situation in your life. It’s never a good day when you get a concussion! And if you have ringing in your ears, you might ask yourself, why do I have ringing in my ears after a car crash?

It could be days later or immediately after the crash that tinnitus symptoms emerge. However, it’s essential to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be successfully managed. Give us a call today to make an appointment.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.