You Know when you’re viewing an action movie and the hero has a thunderous explosion close by and their ears start ringing? Well, at least some degree of mild 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 in the context of hearing loss, but actually, traumatic brain injuries like concussions can also trigger 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 occur (for example, falls, sporting accidents, and motor vehicle accidents). How something like a concussion triggers tinnitus can be, well, complicated. But here’s the good news: even if you suffer a brain injury that triggers tinnitus, you can usually treat and manage your condition.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is brain trauma of a very particular kind. Think about it this way: your brain is nestled fairly tightly into your skull (your brain is big, and your skull is there to protect it). When anything comes along and shakes the head violently enough, your brain begins moving around inside of your skull. But because there’s so little additional space in there, your brain may literally smash into the inside of your skull.
This hurts your brain! The brain can hit one or more sides of your skull. And this is what causes a concussion. When you visualize this, it makes it easy to understand how a concussion is quite literally brain damage. Symptoms of concussions include the following:
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Blurry vision or dizziness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Confusion and loss of memory
- Ringing in the ears
- Slurred speech
This list isn’t exhaustive, but you get the idea. A few weeks to several months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. When someone gets one concussion, they will typically make a full recovery. But recurring concussions can cause irreversible brain damage.
How do concussions trigger tinnitus?
Is it actually feasible that a concussion may affect your hearing?
It’s an interesting question: what is the connection between tinnitus and concussions? Because it’s more correct to say that traumatic brain injuries (even mild ones) can bring about tinnitus, it’s not only concussions. That ringing in your ears can be set off by even minor brain injuries. That may occur in a couple of ways:
- Disruption of communication: In some cases, the portion of your brain that manages hearing can become damaged by a concussion. As a result, the messages sent from the ear to your brain can’t be correctly processed and tinnitus can result.
- Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is in charge of sending sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can harm.
- Damage to your hearing: Experiencing an explosion at close distance is the cause of concussions and TBIs for lots of members of the armed forces. And explosions are really loud, the noise and the shock wave can harm the stereocilia in your ear, triggering hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t necessarily caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some common causes.
- Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three tiny bones in your ear that help transfer sounds to your brain. A substantial impact (the type that can trigger a concussion, for instance) can jostle these bones out of place. This can interrupt your ability to hear and cause tinnitus.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: This kind of concussion takes place when the inner ear is damaged as a result of your TBI. This damage can cause inflammation and cause both hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: A TBI can cause the onset of a condition called Meniere’s Syndrome. When pressure builds up in the inner ear this condition can happen. Eventually, Meniere’s syndrome can result in significant tinnitus and hearing loss.
It’s important to emphasize that every traumatic brain injury and concussion is a bit different. Personalized care and instructions, from us, will be provided to every patient. Certainly, if you think you have experienced a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you should call us for an assessment right away.
How do you manage tinnitus caused by a concussion?
Most frequently, tinnitus related to a concussion or traumatic brain injury will be temporary. How long does tinnitus last after a concussion? Weeks or months, sadly, could be the time period. However, if your tinnitus has lingered for more than a year, it’s likely to be irreversible. In these cases, the treatment strategy changes to managing your symptoms over the long term.
This can be achieved by:
- Masking device: This device goes in your ear much like a hearing aid, but it generates particular noises instead of making things louder. Your particular 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 outside sounds.
- Hearing aid: In a similar way to when you’re dealing with 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: Sometimes, patients can learn to overlook the sound by undertaking cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You acknowledge that the noise is there, and then disregard it. This technique takes therapy and practice.
In some cases, additional therapies might be necessary to accomplish the expected result. Treatment of the underlying concussion may be required in order to make the tinnitus go away. Depending on the nature of your concussion, there could be several possible courses of action. As a result, an accurate diagnosis is extremely important in this regard.
Find out what the best plan of treatment might be for you by getting in touch with us.
You can control tinnitus caused by a TBI
Your life can be traumatically impacted by a concussion. It’s never a good day when you get concussed! And if you’ve been in a car crash and your ears are ringing, you may wonder why.
Tinnitus could surface instantly or in the days that follow. But you can successfully manage tinnitus after an accident and that’s significant to keep in mind. Schedule a consultation with us right away.