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 most likely means our hero sustained at least a mild 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 discussed from the perspective of hearing loss, but it turns out that traumatic brain injuries such as concussions can also lead to this particular ringing in the ears.
Concussions, after all, are one of the most common traumatic brain injuries that happen. And they can occur for many reasons (for instance, falls, sports accidents, and motor vehicle crashes). It can be somewhat complex sorting out how a concussion can lead to tinnitus. 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 distinct type. Think about it like this: your brain is situated fairly tightly into your skull (your brain is big, and your skull is there to protect it). 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 could literally smash 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 picture this, it makes it simple to understand how a concussion is quite literally brain damage. Here are some symptoms of a concussion:
- Ringing in the ears
- Slurred speech
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Loss of memory and confusion
- Nausea and vomiting
Even though this list makes the point, it’s by no means complete. A few weeks to a few months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. When somebody gets one concussion, they will normally make a full recovery. But repeated concussions can lead to permanent brain damage.
How is tinnitus triggered by a concussion?
Is it really 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 accurate to say that traumatic brain injuries (even mild ones) can cause tinnitus, It isn’t only concussions. Even mild brain injuries can lead to that ringing in your ears. That might occur in a few ways:
- Disruption of communication: In some instances, the portion of your brain that controls hearing can become harmed by a concussion. As a result, the messages sent from the ear to your brain can’t be properly processed and tinnitus can be the outcome.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: The development of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be a consequence of a TBI. When pressure accumulates in the inner ear this condition can occur. Sooner or later, Meniere’s syndrome can lead to significant tinnitus and hearing loss.
- Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is responsible for sending 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 many members of the military. Irreversible hearing loss can be triggered when the stereocilia in your ears are damaged by the tremendously loud shock wave of an explosion. Tinnitus isn’t inevitably caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some root causes.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: This type of concussion happens when the inner ear is damaged as a result of your TBI. This damage can create inflammation and cause both hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: The transmission of sound to your brain is aided by three tiny bones in your ear. A substantial impact (the type that can trigger a concussion, for example) can jostle these bones out of position. Tinnitus can be triggered by this and it can also disrupt your ability to hear.
Of course it’s important to keep in mind that no two brain injuries are precisely alike. Personalized care and instructions, from us, will be given to every patient. Indeed, if you think you have suffered a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you should call us for an assessment right away.
When you suffer from a concussion and tinnitus is the result, how can it be managed?
Typically, it will be a temporary challenge if tinnitus is the consequence of a concussion. How long does tinnitus last after a concussion? Well, it could last weeks or months. However, if your tinnitus has lingered for more than a year, it’s likely to be long lasting. Over time, in these circumstances, treatment plans to manage your condition will be the best strategy.
This can be achieved by:
- Therapy: In some cases, therapy, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be used to help patients disregard the noise caused by their tinnitus. You accept that the noise is present, and then disregard it. This technique takes therapy and practice.
- Masking device: This device is a lot like a hearing aid, but instead of helping you hear things more loudly, it produces a distinct noise in your ear. Your particular tinnitus symptoms determine what sound the device will produce helping you disregard the tinnitus sounds and be better able to pay attention to voices and other outside sounds.
- 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. Hearing aids help your tinnitus fade into the background by turning up the volume on everything else.
In some situations, additional therapies might be necessary to achieve the expected result. Treatment of the root 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. This means a precise diagnosis is incredibly important in this regard.
Find out what the right plan of treatment might be for you by giving us a call.
You can control tinnitus caused by a TBI
A concussion can be a significant and traumatic situation in your life. When you get concussed, 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?
Tinnitus may surface instantly or in the days that follow. But you can effectively manage tinnitus after a crash and that’s significant to keep in mind. Give us a call today to make an appointment.