You know that scene in your favorite action movie where something explodes next to the hero and the sound gets all high-pitched-buzzing? Well, at least some degree of minor brain trauma has likely happened to them.
To be sure, brain injuries aren’t the part that most action movies linger on. But that ringing in our hero’s ears signifies a condition called tinnitus. Usually, hearing loss is the topic of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also trigger this condition.
Concussions, after all, are one of the most prevalent traumatic brain injuries that happen. And there are quite a few reasons concussions can happen (car accidents, sporting accidents, and falls, for example). It can be a bit complex sorting out how a concussion can trigger tinnitus. But the good news is that 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 a particular kind of traumatic brain injury (TBI). One way to think about it is that your brain is protected by sitting snuggly in your skull. The brain will begin moving around inside your skull when something shakes your head violently. But because there’s so little extra space in there, your brain may literally smash into the inside of your skull.
This harms your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be hit by your brain. And when this happens, you get a concussion. This example makes it quite evident that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Here are some symptoms of a concussion:
- Ringing in the ears
- Confusion and loss of memory
- Blurry vision or dizziness
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Vomiting and nausea
- Slurred speech
Even though this list makes the point, it’s in no way exhaustive. Symptoms from a concussion can continue anywhere between a few weeks and several months. Brain injury from one concussion is typically not permanent, most people will end up making a full recovery. However, repeated or multiple concussions are a different story (generally, it’s a good idea to avoid these).
How do concussions cause tinnitus?
Can a concussion interfere with your hearing? Really?
The matter of concussions and tinnitus is an intriguing one. After all, concussions aren’t the only brain traumas that can cause tinnitus symptoms. That ringing in your ears can be triggered by even minor brain injuries. That might happen in a couple of ways:
- Meniere’s Syndrome: The development of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be caused by a TBI. This is caused by the buildup of pressure within the inner ear. Significant hearing loss and tinnitus can become a problem over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: This kind of concussion takes place when the inner ear is damaged due to your TBI. Tinnitus and hearing loss, due to inflammation, can be the result of this damage.
- Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is in charge of transmitting sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can harm.
- Damage to your hearing: Enduring 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 triggered when the stereocilia in your ears are injured by the incredibly loud shock wave of an explosion. Tinnitus isn’t always caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some common causes.
- Disruption of communication: In some instances, the portion of your brain that manages hearing can become damaged by a concussion. When this happens, the messages that get transmitted from your ear cannot be correctly dealt with, and tinnitus may happen consequently.
- Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: The transmission of sound to your brain is assisted by three tiny bones in your ear. These bones can be knocked out of place by a significant concussive, impactive event. This can interrupt your ability to hear and result in tinnitus.
It’s significant to stress that every traumatic brain injury and concussion is a bit different. Individualized care and instructions, from us, will be given to every patient. You should certainly call us for an assessment if you believe you may have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
When you suffer from a concussion and tinnitus is the consequence, how can it be managed?
Most frequently, tinnitus caused by a concussion or traumatic brain damage will be short-term. After a concussion, how long can I anticipate my tinnitus to linger? Well, it might last weeks or possibly months. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is long lasting if it lasts more than a year. In these cases, the treatment plan transitions to controlling your symptoms over the long term.
This can be achieved by:
- Therapy: In some situations, therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be used to help patients disregard the noise produced by their tinnitus. You acknowledge that the noise is present, and then disregard it. It will take some therapy, practice, and time though.
- Hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes prominent 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). A hearing aid can help turn the volume up on everything else, ensuring that your tinnitus fades into the background.
- Masking device: This device is a lot like a hearing aid, only instead of helping you hear things louder, it produces a specific 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 focus on voices and other external sounds.
In some cases, further therapies might be required to achieve the desired result. Management of the root concussion may be required in order to make the tinnitus go away. The best 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 getting in touch with us.
You can control tinnitus caused by a TBI
A concussion can be a substantial and traumatic event in your life. When you get concussed, it’s a bad day! And if you have ringing in your ears, you may ask yourself, why are my ears ringing after a car crash?
Tinnitus could surface immediately or in the following days. But you can successfully control tinnitus after a crash and that’s significant to keep in mind. Call us today to schedule an appointment.