You know that scene in your favorite action movie where something blows up next to 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 emphasize the brain injury part. But that ringing in our hero’s ears signifies a condition called tinnitus. Usually, hearing loss is the subject of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also cause this condition.
After all, one of the most common traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And they can occur for many reasons (car crashes, sporting accidents, and falls, for instance). How something such as a concussion causes tinnitus can be, well, complicated. But the good news is that even if you sustain 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 view it is that your brain is protected by fitting tightly in your skull. 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 extra space in there.
This causes harm to your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be hit by your brain. And when this happens, you experience a concussion. This example makes it quite evident that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Symptoms of concussions include the following:
- Ringing in the ears
- Slurred speech
- Confusion and loss of memory
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Nausea and vomiting
Although this list makes the point, it’s by no means complete. Symptoms from a concussion can last anywhere between a few weeks and a few months. Brain damage from a single concussion is typically not permanent, most people will end up making a total recovery. But recurring concussions can lead to irreversible brain damage.
How is tinnitus caused by a concussion?
Is it really feasible that a concussion may impact your hearing?
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 minor ones) can bring about tinnitus, It isn’t only concussions. Even mild brain injuries can result in that ringing in your ears. That may happen in a couple of ways:
- Meniere’s Syndrome: A TBI can cause the development of a condition called Meniere’s Syndrome. When pressure builds up in the inner ear this condition can occur. Sooner or later, Meniere’s syndrome can result in significant tinnitus and hearing loss.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: When your TBI injures the inner ear this form of concussion happens. Tinnitus and hearing loss, due to inflammation, can be the result of this damage.
- Damage to your hearing: For members of the armed forces, TBIs and concussions are frequently caused by proximity to an explosion. Irreversible hearing loss can be caused when the stereocilia in your ears are injured by the tremendously noisy 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 a common root cause.
- Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: The transmission of sound to your brain is assisted by three tiny bones in your ear. These bones can be pushed out of place by a significant concussive, impactive event. Tinnitus can be caused by this and it can also disrupt your ability to hear.
- Nerve damage: A concussion might also cause damage to the nerve that is responsible for transmitting the sounds you hear to your brain.
- Disruption of communication: In some cases, the portion of your brain that controls hearing can become harmed by a concussion. When this happens, the signals that get sent from your ear cannot be precisely dealt with, and tinnitus may happen as a result.
Of course it’s significant to keep in mind that no two brain injuries are exactly the same. Every patient will get individualized care and instructions from us. You should definitely contact us for an evaluation if you believe you might have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
When you get a concussion and tinnitus is the result, how can it be managed?
Typically, it will be a temporary situation if tinnitus is the result of a concussion. How long can tinnitus linger after a concussion? Weeks or possibly months, unfortunately, could be the time period. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is permanent if it lasts 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: Sometimes, patients can learn to disregard the sound by engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You disregard the sound after accepting it. This technique requires therapy and practice.
- Hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes dominant because the rest of the world goes into the background (as is the case with non-TBI-caused hearing loss, everything else gets quieter, so your tinnitus seems louder). A hearing aid can help turn the volume up on everything else, assuring that your tinnitus fades into the background.
- Masking device: This device is similar to a hearing aid, only instead of helping you hear things louder, it produces a specific noise in your ear. Your distinct tinnitus symptoms dictate what sound the device will produce helping you ignore the tinnitus sounds and be better able to pay attention to voices and other outside sounds.
In some cases, further therapies may be necessary to accomplish the desired result. Clearing up the tinnitus will often call for treatment to the underlying concussion. Depending on the nature of your concussion, there could be several possible courses of action. This means an accurate diagnosis is extremely important in this regard.
Talk to us about what the right treatment plan may look like for you.
You can manage tinnitus caused by a TBI
A concussion can be a significant and traumatic event in your life. When you get a concussion, it’s a bad day! And if you’ve been in a car crash and your ears are ringing, you may wonder why.
It could be days later or instantly after the crash that tinnitus symptoms surface. However, it’s essential to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be successfully managed. Contact us today to make an appointment.