You Know when you’re watching an action movie and the hero has a thunderous explosion close by and their ears start ringing? Well, at least some amount of minor brain trauma has likely happened to them.
Obviously, 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 discussed from the perspective of hearing loss, but it turns out that traumatic brain injuries such as 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 a wide variety of reasons (car accidents, sporting accidents, and falls, for example). How something like a concussion triggers tinnitus can be, well, complex. Fortunately, treating and managing your conditions is typically very attainable.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a particular form of traumatic brain injury (TBI). One way to think about it is that your brain is protected by fitting snuggly in your skull. The brain will start to move around in your skull when something shakes your head violently. 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 harm to your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be impacted by your brain. And when this happens, you get a concussion. This illustration makes it quite clear that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Here are some symptoms of a concussion:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Ringing in the ears
- Slurred speech
- Confusion and loss of memory
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Blurry vision or dizziness
Although this list makes the point, it’s certainly not exhaustive. Symptoms from a concussion can persist anywhere between several weeks and a few months. When someone gets one concussion, they will normally make a complete recovery. But, repetitive or multiple concussions are a bigger problem (generally speaking, it’s a good idea to avoid these).
How is tinnitus caused by a concussion?
Can a concussion interfere with your hearing? Really?
The matter of concussions and tinnitus is an interesting one. Not surprisingly, concussions aren’t 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 couple of ways that might take place:
- Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: The relaying of sound to your brain is aided by three tiny bones in your ear. A significant impact (the kind that can cause a concussion, for instance) can jostle these bones out of position. Tinnitus can be triggered by this and it can also disrupt your hearing.
- Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is responsible for transmitting sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can harm.
- Disruption of communication: In some instances, the portion of your brain that manages hearing can become harmed by a concussion. When this occurs, the messages that get sent from your ear cannot be precisely processed, and tinnitus might happen consequently.
- Damage to your hearing: For members of the armed forces, TBIs and concussions are often related to distance to an explosion. Permanent hearing loss can be triggered when the stereocilia in your ears are damaged by the tremendously 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.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: This kind of concussion takes place when the inner ear is injured due to your TBI. Tinnitus and hearing loss, as a result of inflammation, can be the result of this damage.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: A TBI can cause the development of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome. This is a consequence of the buildup of pressure inside of the inner ear. Eventually, Meniere’s syndrome can lead to significant tinnitus and hearing loss.
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 right away.
How do you deal with tinnitus caused by a concussion?
Most frequently, tinnitus triggered by a concussion or traumatic brain injury will be temporary. How long can tinnitus linger after a concussion? Weeks or months, unfortunately, could be the time frame. However, if your tinnitus has lasted for more than a year, it’s likely to be irreversible. Over time, in these situations, treatment plans to manage your condition will be the best strategy.
This can be accomplished by:
- Masking device: This device is similar to a hearing aid, but instead of helping you hear things more loudly, it creates a distinct noise in your ear. Your distinct tinnitus symptoms dictate what sound the device will generate helping you disregard the tinnitus sounds and be better able to pay attention to voices and other outside sounds.
- 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. Hearing aids help your tinnitus fade into the background by turning up the volume on everything else.
- Therapy: In some cases, therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be utilized to help patients disregard the noise produced by their tinnitus. You disregard the sound after accepting it. This technique requires therapy and practice.
In some situations, further therapies may be necessary to obtain the expected result. Treatment of the root concussion may be necessary in order to make the tinnitus go away. Depending on the status of your concussion, there may be several possible courses of action. In this regard, an accurate diagnosis is key.
Learn what the right plan of treatment may be for you by getting in touch with us.
You can manage tinnitus caused by a TBI
Your life can be traumatically impacted by a concussion. When you get concussed, it’s a bad day! And if you’ve been in a car crash and your ears are ringing, you may wonder why.
Tinnitus could emerge immediately or in the days that follow. But you can successfully manage tinnitus after a crash and that’s important to keep in mind. Schedule a consultation with us today.