You know that scene in your favorite action movie where something explodes near the hero and the sound gets all high-pitched-buzzing? Well, guess what: that likely means our hero suffered at least a minor traumatic brain injury!
Naturally, action movies don’t emphasize the brain injury part. But that high-pitched ringing is something called tinnitus. Tinnitus is most frequently talked about in the context of hearing loss, but it turns out that traumatic brain injuries like concussions can also lead to this particular ringing in the ears.
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, sports accidents, and falls, for instance). How something like a concussion triggers tinnitus can be, well, complex. But the good news is that even if you suffer a brain injury that triggers 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 view it is that your brain is protected by fitting tightly in your skull. The brain will begin to move around in your skull when something shakes your head violently. But because there’s so little extra space in there, your brain may literally crash into the inside of your skull.
This causes damage to your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be impacted by your brain. And this is what brings about a concussion. When you visualize this, it makes it simple to see how a concussion is literally brain damage. Symptoms of concussions include the following:
- Ringing in the ears
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Slurred speech
- Vomiting and nausea
- Confusion and loss of memory
This list is not complete, but you get the idea. Symptoms from a concussion can continue anywhere between several weeks and a few months. When someone gets a single concussion, they will normally make a full recovery. But, repetitive or multiple concussions are a different story (generally, it’s the best idea to avoid these).
How is tinnitus caused by a concussion?
Can a concussion mess with your hearing? Really?
The matter of concussions and tinnitus is an intriguing one. After all, concussions are not the only brain traumas that can trigger tinnitus symptoms. That ringing in your ears can be activated by even mild brain injuries. Here are a couple of ways that may occur:
- Nerve damage: A concussion may also cause injury to the nerve that is in charge of transferring the sounds you hear to your brain.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: When your TBI damages the inner ear this type of concussion happens. Tinnitus and hearing loss, due to inflammation, can be the result of this damage.
- Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some situations, harm the parts of the brain that control hearing. When this happens, the messages that get sent from your ear can’t be correctly processed, and tinnitus may happen as a result.
- 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 triggered when the stereocilia in your ears are injured by the tremendously noisy shock wave of an explosion. So it isn’t so much that the concussion caused tinnitus, it’s that the tinnitus and concussion have a common underlying cause.
- Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three tiny bones in your ear that help transmit sounds to your brain. A substantial impact (the type that can cause a concussion, for instance) can push these bones out of place. Tinnitus can be triggered by this and it can also disrupt your ability to hear.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: A TBI can cause the development of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome. When pressure accumulates in the inner ear this condition can happen. Sooner or later, Meniere’s syndrome can result in significant tinnitus and hearing loss.
Of course it’s important to note that no two brain injuries are precisely alike. Individualized care and instructions, from us, will be given to every patient. Indeed, if you think you have experienced a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you should call us for an evaluation as soon as possible.
How do you deal with tinnitus from a concussion?
Most frequently, tinnitus triggered by a concussion or traumatic brain damage will be temporary. After a concussion, how long can I anticipate my tinnitus to last? Well, it might last weeks or months. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is irreversible if it persists for more than a year. In these circumstances, the treatment strategy changes to managing your symptoms over the long term.
This can be achieved by:
- Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to ignore the sound by undertaking cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You acknowledge that the noise is present, and then disregard it. This technique takes therapy and practice.
- Masking device: This device goes inside your ear much like a hearing aid, but it generates specific noises instead of amplifying things. This noise is custom tailored to your tinnitus, drowning out the sound so you can focus on voices, or other sounds you actually want to hear.
- Hearing aid: In a similar way to when you have hearing loss not triggered by a TBI, tinnitus symptoms seem louder because everything else is quieter. A hearing aid can help raise the volume of everything else, assuring that your tinnitus fades into the background.
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. The right course of action will depend on the nature of your concussion and your TBI. As a result, an accurate diagnosis is incredibly important in this regard.
Discover what the best plan of treatment might be for you by giving us a call.
You can manage tinnitus caused by a TBI
A concussion can be a substantial and traumatic situation in your life. When you get a concussion, it’s a bad day! And if your ears are ringing, you might ask yourself, why do I have ringing in my ears after a car accident?
It may be days later or instantly after the accident that tinnitus symptoms emerge. But you can effectively control tinnitus after a crash and that’s significant to keep in mind. Schedule a consultation with us today.