Concussions & Tinnitus: What’s the Link?

Woman with hands on her head suffering from concussion related tinnitus.

You Know when you’re viewing an action movie and the hero has a thunderous explosion close by and their ears start ringing? Well, guess what: that most likely means our hero suffered at least a mild traumatic brain injury!

To be certain, brain injuries aren’t the bit that most action movies focus 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 more common traumatic brain injuries that happen. And they can happen for a wide variety of reasons (car accidents, sporting accidents, and falls, for example). It can be somewhat complex sorting out how a concussion can cause tinnitus. Luckily, treating and managing your conditions is typically very achievable.

Concussions, exactly what are they?

A concussion is brain trauma of a very distinct kind. Think about it like this: your brain is situated pretty tightly into your skull (your brain is large, and your skull is there to protect it). The brain will start moving around in your skull when something shakes your head violently. But your brain could end up crashing into the inside of your skull because of the small amount of additional space in there.

This causes damage to your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be hit by your brain. And this is what results in a concussion. When you visualize this, it makes it simple to understand how a concussion is quite literally brain damage. Here are a few symptoms of a concussion:

  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Headaches
  • A slow or delayed response to questions
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Loss of memory and confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Blurry vision or dizziness

This list is not exhaustive, but you get the point. Symptoms from a concussion can persist anywhere between several weeks and a few months. When someone gets one concussion, they will typically make a full recovery. But, repetitive or multiple concussions are a bigger problem (generally, it’s a good idea to avoid these).

How is tinnitus caused by a concussion?

Can a concussion interfere with your hearing? Really?

The question of concussions and tinnitus is an interesting one. Because it’s more accurate to say that traumatic brain injuries (even mild ones) can lead to tinnitus, it’s not only concussions. Even minor brain injuries can result in that ringing in your ears. Here are a couple of ways that might take place:

  • Meniere’s Syndrome: A TBI can cause the onset of a condition called Meniere’s Syndrome. When pressure builds up in the inner ear this condition can occur. Significant hearing loss and tinnitus can become a problem over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
  • A “labyrinthine” concussion: This form of concussion occurs when the inner ear is injured as a result of your TBI. Tinnitus and hearing loss, as a result of inflammation, can be the consequence of this damage.
  • Damage to your hearing: Experiencing 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 damaged 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.
  • Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is responsible for transmitting sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can damage.
  • Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some instances, harm the parts of the brain that manage hearing. Consequently, the signals sent from the ear to your brain can’t be correctly processed and tinnitus can be the outcome.
  • Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: The relaying of sound to your brain is aided by three tiny bones in your ear. These bones can be knocked out of place by a significant concussive, impactive event. Tinnitus can be triggered by this and it can also interrupt your ability to hear.

It’s significant to emphasize that every traumatic brain injury and concussion is a bit different. Individualized care and instructions, from us, will be given to every patient. Certainly, if you think you have experienced a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you need to call us for an assessment right away.

How do you treat tinnitus from a concussion?

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? Weeks or months, unfortunately, could be the time frame. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is permanent if it persists for more than a year. Over time, in these situations, treatment plans to manage your condition will be the optimal strategy.

Here are some ways to accomplish this:

  • 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 the volume up on everything else.
  • Masking device: This device goes inside your ear much like a hearing aid, but it creates particular noises instead of making things louder. Your distinct tinnitus symptoms determine what sound the device will generate helping you ignore the tinnitus sounds and be better able to pay attention to voices and other external sounds.
  • Therapy: In some cases, therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be utilized to help patients disregard the noise produced by their tinnitus. You accept that the noise is there, and then disregard it. It will take some therapy, practice, and time though.

In some situations, further therapies may be necessary to obtain the desired result. Management of the underlying concussion might be necessary in order to make the tinnitus go away. Depending on the status of your concussion, there could be several possible courses of action. In this regard, an accurate diagnosis is key.

Discover what the best plan of treatment might be for you by giving us a call.

TBI-triggered tinnitus can be controlled

Your life can be traumatically affected by a concussion. When you get concussed, it’s a bad day! And if your ears are ringing, you may ask yourself, why are my ears ringing after a car accident?

It could be days later or immediately after the accident that tinnitus symptoms emerge. But you can successfully control tinnitus after an accident and that’s important to keep in mind. Call us today to make an appointment.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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