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 loud explosion nearby and their ears begin to ring? Well, guess what: that most likely means our hero sustained at least a mild traumatic brain injury!

Obviously, action movies don’t highlight the brain injury part. But that high-pitched ringing is something called tinnitus. Tinnitus is most often talked about from the perspective of hearing loss, but it turns out that traumatic brain injuries like concussions can also trigger this particular ringing in the ears.

After all, one of the most prevalent traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And they can occur for numerous reasons (car crashes, sports accidents, and falls, for instance). How something like a concussion causes tinnitus can be, well, complex. But the good news is that even if you sustain a brain injury that triggers tinnitus, you can usually treat and manage your condition.

Concussions, exactly what are they?

A concussion is brain trauma of a very specific kind. Think about it like this: your brain is situated fairly tightly inside your skull (your brain is big, and your skull is there to protect it). When anything comes along and shakes the head violently enough, your brain begins moving around in your skull. But your brain could wind up crashing into the inside of your skull because of the small amount of extra space in there.

This causes harm to your brain! The brain can impact one or more sides of your skull. And when this happens, you get a concussion. When you picture this, it makes it easy to understand how a concussion is literally brain damage. Here are a few symptoms of a concussion:

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

Although this list makes the point, it’s in no way exhaustive. Several weeks to several months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. When someone gets a single concussion, they will typically make a full recovery. But recurring concussions can cause permanent brain damage.

How do concussions trigger tinnitus?

Can a concussion mess with your hearing? Really?

It’s an intriguing question: what is the link between tinnitus and concussions? Not surprisingly, concussions aren’t the only brain traumas that can cause tinnitus symptoms. That ringing in your ears can be set off by even minor brain injuries. That may happen in a couple of ways:

  • Meniere’s Syndrome: The onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be a consequence of a TBI. This is caused by an accumulation of pressure within the inner ear. Significant hearing loss and tinnitus can become an issue over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
  • 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 portions of the brain that manage hearing. As a result, the messages sent from the ear to your brain can’t be properly digested and tinnitus can result.
  • Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three tiny bones in your ear that help send sounds to your brain. A significant impact (the kind that can trigger a concussion, for instance) can jostle these bones out of position. This can interrupt your ability to hear and result in tinnitus.
  • A “labyrinthine” concussion: This type of concussion occurs when the inner ear is damaged as a result of your TBI. This damage can cause inflammation and cause both hearing loss and tinnitus.
  • Damage to your hearing: For members of the military, TBIs and concussions are often related to distance to an explosion. Irreversible hearing loss can be triggered when the stereocilia in your ears are injured by the exceptionally 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 the same underlying cause.

Of course it’s important to note that no two brain injuries are exactly alike. Personalized care and instructions, from us, will be provided to every patient. You should certainly call us for an evaluation if you believe you may have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

When you get a concussion and tinnitus is the consequence, how can it be addressed?

Most frequently, tinnitus triggered by a concussion or traumatic brain damage will be short-term. After a concussion, how long can I anticipate my tinnitus to last? Well, it may last weeks or months. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is long lasting if it lasts more than a year. Over time, in these circumstances, treatment plans to manage your condition will be the optimal plan.

This can be achieved by:

  • Masking device: This device goes inside your ear a lot like a hearing aid, but it generates particular noises instead of making things louder. This noise is customized to your tinnitus, drowning out the sound so you can pay attention to voices, or other sounds you really want to hear.
  • Hearing aid: In a similar way to when you’re dealing with 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 the volume up on everything else.
  • Therapy: In some cases, therapy, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be utilized to help patients ignore the noise caused by their tinnitus. You disregard the sound after acknowledging it. It will require some therapy, practice, and time though.

In some cases, additional therapies may be required to accomplish the desired result. Clearing up the tinnitus will frequently require treatment to the root concussion. Depending on the status of your concussion, there could be several possible courses of action. In this regard, a precise diagnosis is key.

Consult us about what the right treatment plan may look like for you.

TBI-caused tinnitus can be managed

Your life can be traumatically affected by a concussion. When you get concussed, it’s a bad day! And if you’ve been in a car crash and your ears are ringing, you might wonder why.

It may be days later or instantly after the crash that tinnitus symptoms surface. However, it’s important to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be successfully managed. Contact us today to make an appointment.

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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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