You know that scene in your favorite action movie where something explodes near the hero and the sound gets all high-pitched-buzzing? Well, guess what: that likely means our hero suffered at least a minor traumatic brain injury!
To be certain, brain injuries aren’t the bit that most action movies focus on. But that ringing in our hero’s ears represents a condition called tinnitus. Usually, hearing loss is the topic of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also cause this condition.
After all, one of the most prevalent traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And there are a number of reasons concussions can happen (for example, falls, sports accidents, and motor vehicle crashes). How something like a concussion triggers tinnitus can be, well, complex. Luckily, treating and managing your conditions is usually very achievable.
Concussions, exactly what are they?
A concussion is a specific kind of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Think about it like this: your brain is situated fairly tightly inside your skull (your brain is large, and your skull is there to protect it). The brain will begin to move around in your skull when something shakes your head violently. But because there’s so little additional space in there, your brain may literally smash into the inside of your skull.
This causes damage to your brain! The brain can hit one or more sides of your skull. And when this happens, you get a concussion. When you picture this, it makes it simple to see how a concussion is quite literally brain damage. Symptoms of concussions include the following:
- Loss of memory and confusion
- Nausea and vomiting
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Ringing in the ears
This list isn’t exhaustive, but you get the point. Symptoms from a concussion can continue anywhere between a few weeks and a few months. When someone gets one concussion, they will usually make a full recovery. But, repeated or multiple concussions are a different story (generally, it’s the best idea to avoid these).
How do concussions trigger tinnitus?
Can a concussion interfere with your hearing? Really?
The matter of concussions and tinnitus is an intriguing one. After all, concussions won’t be the only brain traumas that can cause tinnitus symptoms. Even mild brain injuries can lead to that ringing in your ears. That may occur in a couple of ways:
- Nerve damage: A concussion might also cause injury to the nerve that is responsible for transmitting the sounds you hear to your brain.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: The onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be caused by a TBI. This is a consequence of the buildup of pressure within the inner ear. Substantial hearing loss and tinnitus can become a problem over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
- Damage to your hearing: Enduring an explosion at close range is the cause of concussions and TBIs for many members of the armed forces. And explosions are very loud, the noise and the shock wave can damage the stereocilia in your ear, triggering hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t inevitably caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some root causes.
- Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: The relaying of sound to your brain is assisted by three bones in your ear. A substantial impact (the kind that can cause a concussion, for instance) can jostle these bones out of position. This can interrupt your ability to hear and cause tinnitus.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: When your TBI injures the inner ear this type of concussion occurs. Tinnitus and hearing loss, due to inflammation, can be the result of this damage.
- Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some cases, harm the portions of the brain that control hearing. When this occurs, the signals that get transmitted from your ear cannot be correctly dealt with, and tinnitus might occur consequently.
It’s significant to emphasize that every traumatic brain injury and concussion is a little different. Individualized care and instructions, from us, will be provided to every patient. Indeed, if you think you have suffered a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you should call us for an assessment as soon as possible.
How do you deal with tinnitus caused by a concussion?
Most often, tinnitus triggered by a concussion or traumatic brain injury will be temporary. After a concussion, how long can I expect my tinnitus to last? Well, it may last weeks or months. However, if your tinnitus has lingered for more than a year, it’s likely to be permanent. In these cases, the treatment plan transitions to controlling your symptoms over the long run.
Here are some ways to accomplish this:
- Masking device: This device goes in your ear much like a hearing aid, but it generates specific noises instead of making things louder. Your specific tinnitus symptoms determine what sound the device will produce helping you disregard the tinnitus sounds and be better able to focus on voices and other external sounds.
- 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 gets quieter, so your tinnitus sounds louder). Hearing aids help your tinnitus go into the background by turning the volume up on everything else.
- Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to overlook the sound by undertaking cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You accept that the noise is there, and then disregard it. This technique takes therapy and practice.
In some situations, further therapies might be necessary to obtain the expected result. Management of the underlying concussion may be required in order to get rid of the tinnitus. Depending on the nature of your concussion, there may be several possible courses of action. In this regard, a precise diagnosis is key.
Talk to us about what the ideal treatment plan might 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 concussed! And if you have ringing in your ears, you may ask yourself, why are my ears ringing after a car accident?
Tinnitus may emerge instantly or in the following days. But you can successfully manage tinnitus after a crash and that’s important to keep in mind. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment.