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 probably means our hero suffered at least a minor traumatic brain injury!
To be certain, brain injuries aren’t the bit that most action movies linger on. But that high-pitched ringing is something called tinnitus. Tinnitus is most often discussed in the context of hearing loss, but actually, 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 there are a number of reasons concussions can occur (for instance, falls, sports accidents, and motor vehicle crashes). How something like a concussion triggers tinnitus can be, well, complex. But the good news is that even if you sustain a brain injury that triggers tinnitus, you can normally treat and manage your condition.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a particular kind of traumatic brain injury (TBI). One way to think about it is that your brain is protected by fitting tightly in your skull. The brain will start moving around inside your skull when something shakes your head violently. But your brain could wind 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 leads to a concussion. This illustration makes it quite clear that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Here are some symptoms of a concussion:
- Confusion and loss of memory
- Nausea and vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Ringing in the ears
Even though this list makes the point, it’s in no way complete. Symptoms from a concussion can persist anywhere between several weeks and a few months. When somebody gets a single concussion, they will typically make a complete recovery. But repeated concussions can lead to permanent brain damage.
How is tinnitus triggered by a concussion?
Is it really possible that a concussion could impact your hearing?
It’s an intriguing question: what is the connection between tinnitus and concussions? After all, concussions aren’t the only brain traumas that can cause tinnitus symptoms. That ringing in your ears can be activated by even mild brain injuries. That may happen in a few ways:
- Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is in charge of sending sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can damage.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: When your TBI injures the inner ear this form of concussion happens. Tinnitus and hearing loss, as a result of inflammation, can be the result of this damage.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: A TBI can cause the onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome. This is a consequence of the buildup of pressure within the inner ear. Sooner or later, Meniere’s syndrome can lead to noticeable tinnitus and hearing loss.
- Damage to your hearing: For members of the military, TBIs and concussions are frequently a result of proximity to an explosion. And explosions are incredibly loud, the sound and the shock wave can harm the stereocilia in your ear, triggering hearing loss and tinnitus. So it isn’t so much that the concussion caused tinnitus, it’s that the tinnitus and concussion have a common root cause.
- Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some instances, harm the parts of the brain that manage hearing. When this happens, the signals that get transmitted from your ear cannot be precisely dealt with, and tinnitus may happen consequently.
- Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three tiny bones in your ear that help send sounds to your brain. These bones can be knocked out of place by a substantial concussive, impactive event. Tinnitus can be caused by this and it can also disrupt your hearing.
It’s important 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. Indeed, if you think you have experienced a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you need to call us for an evaluation right away.
How do you treat tinnitus from a concussion?
Most often, tinnitus related to a concussion or traumatic brain injury will be temporary. After a concussion, how long can I anticipate my tinnitus to last? Weeks or months, sadly, could be the time frame. Then again, if your tinnitus has lingered for more than a year, it’s likely to be irreversible. In these circumstances, the treatment plan changes to controlling your symptoms over the long term.
Here are some ways to achieve this:
- Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to ignore the sound by engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You accept that the noise is there, and then disregard it. It will require some therapy, practice, and time though.
- Masking device: This device goes inside your ear much like a hearing aid, but it generates particular noises instead of making things louder. Your particular tinnitus symptoms dictate what sound the device will generate helping you ignore the tinnitus sounds and be better able to focus on voices and other external sounds.
- 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.
Achieving the desired result will, in some cases, call for added therapies. Clearing up the tinnitus will frequently require treatment to the root concussion. Depending on the nature of your concussion, there may be a number of possible courses of action. This means an accurate diagnosis is extremely important in this regard.
Talk to us about what the ideal treatment plan might look like for you.
You can control tinnitus caused by a TBI
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 accident and your ears are ringing, you might wonder why.
It may be days later or immediately after the crash that tinnitus symptoms surface. But you can successfully manage tinnitus after an accident and that’s significant to keep in mind. Schedule a consultation with us today.