You know that scene in your favorite action movie where something blows up near the hero and the sound goes all high-pitched-buzzing? Well, at least some degree of minor brain trauma has likely happened to them.
To be certain, brain injuries aren’t the part that most action movies focus on. But that ringing in our hero’s ears represents a condition called tinnitus. Usually, hearing loss is the subject of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also cause this condition.
After all, one of the most prevalent traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And there are quite a few reasons concussions can occur (for example, falls, sporting accidents, and motor vehicle accidents). It can be a bit complicated sorting out how a concussion can trigger tinnitus. But the good news is that even if you suffer a brain injury that causes tinnitus, you can normally 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 pretty tightly inside your skull (your brain is big, and your skull is there to protect it). The brain will start to move around in your skull when something shakes your head violently. But your brain could wind up smashing into the inside of your skull because of the little amount of additional space in there.
This causes harm to your brain! The brain can impact one or more sides of your skull. And this is what results in a concussion. When you picture this, it makes it simple to understand how a concussion is quite literally brain damage. Symptoms of concussions include the following:
- Slurred speech
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of memory and confusion
This list isn’t complete, but you get the point. Several 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 permanent brain damage.
How do concussions trigger tinnitus?
Can a concussion mess with your hearing? Really?
The matter of concussions and tinnitus is an interesting one. Not surprisingly, concussions aren’t the only brain traumas that can cause tinnitus symptoms. Even minor brain injuries can result in that ringing in your ears. That may occur in a few ways:
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: When your TBI injures the inner ear this form of concussion happens. Tinnitus and hearing loss, due to inflammation, can be the result of this damage.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: The onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be caused by a TBI. This is caused by an accumulation of pressure within the inner ear. Sooner or later, Meniere’s syndrome can result in significant tinnitus and hearing loss.
- Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: The relaying of sound to your brain is aided by three tiny bones in your ear. These bones can be pushed out of place by a substantial concussive, impactive event. Tinnitus can be triggered by this and it can also interrupt your hearing.
- Damage to your hearing: For members of the armed forces, TBIs and concussions are frequently a result of proximity to an explosion. And explosions are very loud, the sound and the shock wave can harm the stereocilia in your ear, causing hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t necessarily caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some root causes.
- Nerve damage: A concussion might also cause injury to the nerve that is in charge of transmitting the sounds you hear to your brain.
- Disruption of communication: In some instances, the portion of your brain that controls hearing can become damaged by a concussion. As a result, the messages sent from the ear to your brain can’t be correctly processed and tinnitus can be the outcome.
It’s important to emphasize that every traumatic brain injury and concussion is a little different. Individualized care and instructions, from us, will be given to every patient. You should certainly call us for an evaluation if you believe you may have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
When you suffer from a concussion and tinnitus is the result, how can it be addressed?
Most often, tinnitus triggered by a concussion or traumatic brain injury will be temporary. How long can tinnitus linger after a concussion? Well, it may last weeks or possibly months. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is permanent if it lasts more than a year. In these circumstances, the treatment approach transitions to managing your symptoms over the long term.
This can be accomplished by:
- Therapy: In some cases, therapy, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be utilized to help patients ignore the noise produced by their tinnitus. You disregard the sound after accepting it. It will require some therapy, practice, and time though.
- Masking device: This device goes in your ear a lot like a hearing aid, but it produces specific noises instead of amplifying things. Your specific tinnitus symptoms determine what sound the device will produce helping you ignore the tinnitus sounds and be better able to focus on voices and other outside sounds.
- 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. Hearing aids help your tinnitus fade into the background by turning up the volume on everything else.
In some cases, additional therapies might be necessary to accomplish the expected result. Treatment of the underlying concussion may be required in order to make the tinnitus go away. Depending on the status of your concussion, there may be a number of possible courses of action. In this regard, a precise diagnosis is key.
Find out what the best plan of treatment might be for you by getting in touch with us.
You can manage tinnitus caused by a TBI
Your life can be traumatically affected by a concussion. It’s never a good day when you get a concussion! And if you’ve been in a car crash and your ears are ringing, you might wonder why.
It could be days later or immediately after the accident that tinnitus symptoms surface. But you can effectively control tinnitus after an accident and that’s significant to keep in mind. Schedule a consultation with us today.