You know that scene in your favorite action movie where something explodes next to the hero and the sound goes all high-pitched-buzzing? Well, guess what: that likely means our hero suffered at least a mild traumatic brain injury!
To be certain, brain injuries aren’t the part that most action movies linger on. But that high-pitched ringing is something known as tinnitus. Usually, hearing loss is the subject of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also trigger 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 (car accidents, sporting accidents, and falls, for instance). How something such as a concussion triggers tinnitus can be, well, complex. But here’s the good news: even if you sustain a brain injury that causes tinnitus, you can normally treat and manage your condition.
Concussions, exactly what are they?
A concussion is brain trauma of a very particular kind. One way to think about it is that your brain is protected by sitting tightly in your skull. The brain will start moving around inside your skull when something shakes your head violently. But your brain could wind up smashing into the inside of your skull because of the little amount of extra space in there.
This causes damage to your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be impacted by your brain. And this is what causes a concussion. When you picture this, it makes it easy to understand how a concussion is quite literally brain damage. Here are some symptoms of a concussion:
- Confusion and loss of memory
- Ringing in the ears
- Slurred speech
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Nausea and vomiting
Although this list makes the point, it’s in no way exhaustive. A few weeks to several months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. When someone gets one concussion, they will typically make a complete recovery. But, repeated or multiple concussions are a bigger problem (generally speaking, it’s a good idea to avoid these).
How is tinnitus caused by a concussion?
Is it really possible that a concussion may affect your hearing?
It’s an interesting question: what is the connection between concussions and tinnitus? Because it’s more correct to say that traumatic brain injuries (even minor ones) can cause tinnitus, It isn’t just concussions. Even minor brain injuries can lead to that ringing in your ears. That might occur in a couple of ways:
- 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. Significant hearing loss and tinnitus can become an issue over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
- Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three tiny bones in your ear that help transfer sounds to your brain. A significant impact (the kind that can cause a concussion, for example) can jostle these bones out of position. This can interrupt your ability to hear and cause tinnitus.
- Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some cases, damage the parts of the brain that control hearing. As a result, the messages sent from the ear to your brain can’t be correctly processed and tinnitus can result.
- Damage to your hearing: For members of the military, TBIs and concussions are frequently a result of proximity to an explosion. And explosions are very loud, the sound 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.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: This kind of concussion happens when the inner ear is injured as a result of your TBI. This damage can create inflammation and cause both hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is in charge of transmitting sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can harm.
Of course it’s significant to keep in mind that no two brain injuries are exactly alike. Every patient will get personalized care and instructions from us. Indeed, if you think you have experienced a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you need to call us for an evaluation right away.
When you get a concussion and tinnitus is the result, how can it be managed?
Most frequently, tinnitus caused by a concussion or traumatic brain damage will be temporary. How long can tinnitus last after a concussion? Weeks or possibly months, sadly, could be the time frame. However, if your tinnitus has lasted for more than a year, it’s likely to be long lasting. Over time, in these situations, treatment plans to manage your condition will be the best plan.
Here are some ways to achieve this:
- 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 accept that the noise is there, and then ignore it. This technique requires therapy and practice.
- Masking device: This device is a lot like a hearing aid, only instead of helping you hear things louder, it produces a particular noise in your ear. 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 takes a back seat (as is the situation with non-TBI-caused hearing loss, everything else gets quieter, so your tinnitus seems louder). Hearing aids help your tinnitus go into the background by turning the volume up on everything else.
Obtaining the expected result will, in some cases, require additional therapies. Clearing up the tinnitus will often call for treatment to the root concussion. The correct course of action will depend on the nature of your concussion and your TBI. In this regard, a precise diagnosis is key.
Learn what the right plan of treatment may be for you by giving us a call.
You can control tinnitus caused by a TBI
Your life can be traumatically affected by a concussion. 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 might wonder why.
Tinnitus may surface immediately or in the days that follow. But you can successfully manage tinnitus after a crash and that’s significant to keep in mind. Give us a call today to make an appointment.