You Know when you’re watching an action movie and the hero has a thunderous explosion close by and their ears start ringing? Well, at least some amount of mild brain trauma has likely happened to them.
To be sure, brain injuries aren’t the part that most action movies focus on. But that high-pitched ringing is something called tinnitus. Normally, hearing loss is the topic of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also cause this condition.
After all, one of the most common traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And they can occur for a wide variety of reasons (car crashes, sports accidents, and falls, for example). How something such as a concussion causes tinnitus can be, well, complicated. Luckily, treating and managing your conditions is typically very achievable.
Concussions, exactly what are they?
A concussion is brain trauma of a very particular kind. Think about it this way: your brain is nestled fairly tightly inside your skull (your brain is large, and your skull is there to protect it). When something occurs and shakes the head violently enough, your brain starts 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 causes harm to your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be hit by your brain. And this is what leads to a concussion. This illustration makes it quite evident that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Symptoms of concussions include the following:
- Slurred speech
- Ringing in the ears
- Loss of memory and confusion
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Vomiting and nausea
- Dizziness and blurred vision
Even though this list makes the point, it’s certainly not complete. A few weeks to several months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. When someone gets one concussion, they will normally make a complete recovery. But recurring concussions can cause irreversible brain damage.
How do concussions cause tinnitus?
Can a concussion mess with your hearing? Really?
It’s an interesting question: what is the link between tinnitus and concussions? Not surprisingly, concussions won’t be the only brain traumas that can cause tinnitus symptoms. Even mild brain injuries can result in that ringing in your ears. That might happen in a couple of ways:
- Meniere’s Syndrome: A TBI can cause the onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome. When pressure accumulates in the inner ear this condition can happen. Significant hearing loss and tinnitus can become an issue over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: When your TBI damages the inner ear this type of concussion occurs. Tinnitus and hearing loss, due to inflammation, can be the consequence of this damage.
- Nerve damage: A concussion might also trigger damage to the nerve that is in charge of transmitting the sounds you hear to your brain.
- Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: The relaying of sound to your brain is aided by three tiny bones in your ear. A significant impact (the type that can cause a concussion, for instance) can push these bones out of position. Tinnitus can be triggered by this and it can also interrupt your ability to hear.
- Damage to your hearing: Enduring an explosion at close distance is the cause of concussions and TBIs for many members of the armed forces. Permanent hearing loss can be caused when the stereocilia in your ears are injured by the tremendously 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: Concussion can, in some situations, harm the parts of the brain that manage hearing. Consequently, the signals sent from the ear to your brain can’t be precisely digested and tinnitus can be the outcome.
It’s important to emphasize that every traumatic brain injury and concussion is a bit different. Every patient will get individualized care and instructions from us. Certainly, if you think you have suffered a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you need to call us for an assessment right away.
How do you manage tinnitus caused by a concussion?
Usually, it will be a temporary challenge if tinnitus is the result of a concussion. After a concussion, how long can I expect my tinnitus to last? Well, it could last weeks or months. Then again, if your tinnitus has lasted for more than a year, it’s likely to be permanent. Over time, in these circumstances, treatment plans to manage your condition will be the optimal plan.
This can be achieved by:
- Therapy: In some cases, therapy, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be used to help patients disregard the noise produced by their tinnitus. You ignore the sound after accepting it. It will require some therapy, practice, and time though.
- Hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes pronounced because the rest of the world goes into the background (as is the case 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.
- Masking device: This device is a lot like a hearing aid, only instead of helping you hear things louder, it creates a specific noise in your ear. This noise is customized to your tinnitus, overpowering the sound so you can focus on voices, or other sounds you actually want to hear.
In some cases, additional therapies may be necessary to achieve the desired result. Management of the root concussion may be necessary in order to get rid of the tinnitus. The correct course of action will depend on the status of your concussion and your TBI. This means an accurate diagnosis is incredibly important in this regard.
Find out 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 impacted by a concussion. When you get concussed, it’s a bad day! And if your ears are ringing, you may ask yourself, why do I have ringing in my ears after a car crash?
It could be days later or instantly after the crash that tinnitus symptoms surface. However, it’s essential to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be successfully managed. Call us today to make an appointment.