You know that scene in your favorite action movie where something explodes near the hero and the sound goes all high-pitched-buzzing? Well, guess what: that probably means our hero sustained at least a mild traumatic brain injury!
Obviously, action movies don’t emphasize the brain injury part. But that high-pitched ringing is something called tinnitus. Usually, hearing loss is the topic of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also trigger this condition.
After all, one of the most common traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And they can happen for numerous reasons (car crashes, sporting accidents, and falls, for instance). It can be a bit complicated sorting out how a concussion can lead to tinnitus. Luckily, treating and managing your conditions is typically very achievable.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is brain trauma of a very distinct kind. Think about it like this: your brain is situated pretty tightly inside your skull (your brain is big, and your skull is there to protect it). When something occurs and shakes the head violently enough, your brain begins moving around in your skull. But because there’s so little extra space in there, your brain may literally crash into the inside of your skull.
This harms your brain! The brain can hit one or more sides of your skull. And this is what leads to a concussion. When you picture this, it makes it simple to see how a concussion is literally brain damage. Symptoms of concussions include the following:
- Ringing in the ears
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Vomiting and nausea
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- Confusion and loss of memory
- Slurred speech
Even though this list makes the point, it’s by no means exhaustive. A few weeks to a few months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. When someone gets one concussion, they will typically make a full recovery. But recurring concussions can result in irreversible brain damage.
How do concussions trigger tinnitus?
Can a concussion interfere with your hearing? Really?
It’s an interesting question: what is the link between tinnitus and concussions? Because it’s more accurate to say that traumatic brain injuries (even mild ones) can result in tinnitus, It isn’t only concussions. Even minor brain injuries can result in that ringing in your ears. Here are a couple of ways that may take place:
- Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three bones in your ear that help send sounds to your brain. A significant impact (the type that can trigger a concussion, for instance) can push these bones out of place. Tinnitus can be caused by this and it can also interrupt your ability to hear.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: A TBI can cause the development of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome. When pressure builds up in the inner ear this condition can happen. Substantial hearing loss and tinnitus can become an issue over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
- Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is responsible for sending sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can harm.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: This kind of concussion occurs when the inner ear is damaged due to your TBI. Tinnitus and hearing loss, as a result of inflammation, can be the result of this damage.
- Damage to your hearing: Experiencing an explosion at close range is the cause of concussions and TBIs for lots of members of the armed forces. Permanent hearing loss can be caused when the stereocilia in your ears are damaged by the exceptionally loud shock wave of an explosion. Tinnitus isn’t inevitably caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some root causes.
- Disruption of communication: In some cases, the portion of your brain that manages hearing can become harmed by a concussion. When this happens, the signals that get sent from your ear cannot be properly processed, and tinnitus might happen as a result.
It’s significant to emphasize that every traumatic brain injury and concussion is a bit different. Individualized care and instructions, from us, will be given to every patient. Certainly, if you think you have suffered a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you should call us for an evaluation right away.
How do you manage tinnitus from a concussion?
Most often, tinnitus triggered by a concussion or traumatic brain injury will be temporary. After a concussion, how long can I anticipate my tinnitus to linger? Well, it may last weeks or possibly months. However, if your tinnitus has lasted for more than a year, it’s likely to be permanent. In these cases, the treatment strategy transitions to managing your symptoms over the long run.
This can be accomplished by:
- Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to disregard the sound by engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You accept that the noise is present, and then ignore it. It will require some therapy, practice, and time though.
- Hearing aid: In a similar way to when you’re dealing with hearing loss not caused by a TBI, tinnitus symptoms seem louder because everything else is quieter. A hearing aid can help raise the volume of everything else, ensuring that your tinnitus fades into the background.
- Masking device: This device goes in your ear much like a hearing aid, but it generates particular noises instead of making things louder. This noise is customized to your tinnitus, overpowering the sound so you can pay attention to voices, or other sounds you really want to hear.
In some cases, additional therapies may be required to achieve the expected result. Getting rid of the tinnitus will frequently require treatment to the root concussion. Depending on the status of your concussion, there could be several possible courses of action. In this regard, an accurate diagnosis is key.
Find out what the right plan of treatment may be for you by giving us a call.
TBI-triggered tinnitus can be controlled
A concussion can be a substantial and traumatic situation in your life. 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.
It could be days later or instantly after the accident that tinnitus symptoms emerge. But you can successfully control tinnitus after a crash and that’s significant to keep in mind. Call us today to schedule an appointment.