Hearing Health Blog

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

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.

Obviously, action movies don’t emphasize the brain injury part. But that ringing in our hero’s ears signifies a condition called tinnitus. Usually, hearing loss is the subject of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also cause this condition.

Concussions, after all, are one of the more common traumatic brain injuries that occur. And there are a number of reasons concussions can occur (car accidents, sports accidents, and falls, for example). How something such as a concussion triggers tinnitus can be, well, complicated. But the good news is that even if you sustain a brain injury that causes tinnitus, you can normally treat and manage your condition.

Concussions, exactly what are they?

A concussion is brain trauma of a very specific type. 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 smashing into the inside of your skull because of the small amount of extra space in there.

This causes damage to your brain! The brain can hit one or more sides of your skull. And this is what brings about a concussion. When you visualize this, it makes it simple to understand how a concussion is literally brain damage. Here are some symptoms of a concussion:

  • Headaches
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Slurred speech
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A slow or delayed response to questions
  • Dizziness and blurred vision
  • Confusion and loss of memory

This list isn’t exhaustive, but you get the idea. Symptoms from a concussion can continue anywhere between several weeks and a few months. Brain damage from one concussion is typically not permanent, most individuals will end up making a total recovery. But recurring concussions can result in irreversible brain damage.

How do concussions trigger tinnitus?

Is it really possible that a concussion could affect your hearing?

The matter of concussions and tinnitus is an interesting one. Because it’s more correct to say that traumatic brain injuries (even mild ones) can cause tinnitus, it’s not only concussions. That ringing in your ears can be triggered by even mild brain injuries. That may occur in a couple of 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: This form of concussion happens when the inner ear is injured as a result of your TBI. This damage can create inflammation and lead to both hearing loss and tinnitus.
  • Damage to your hearing: Enduring an explosion at close range is the cause of concussions and TBIs for many members of the military. And explosions are really loud, the sound and the shock wave can damage the stereocilia in your ear, triggering hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some root causes.
  • Meniere’s Syndrome: The development of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be a consequence of a TBI. When pressure builds up in the inner ear this condition can occur. Sooner or later, Meniere’s syndrome can result in significant tinnitus and hearing loss.
  • Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: The transmission of sound to your brain is aided by three tiny bones in your ear. These bones can be pushed out of place by a significant concussive, impactive event. Tinnitus can be caused by this and it can also disrupt your ability to hear.
  • Disruption of communication: In some instances, the part of your brain that controls hearing can become harmed by a concussion. As a result, the signals sent from the ear to your brain can’t be correctly processed and tinnitus can be the outcome.

Of course it’s important to note that no two brain injuries are precisely alike. Every patient will receive individualized care and instructions from us. Indeed, if you think you have experienced a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you need to call us for an evaluation as soon as possible.

How do you treat tinnitus from a concussion?

Most frequently, tinnitus triggered by a concussion or traumatic brain damage will be temporary. How long can tinnitus linger after a concussion? Well, it might last weeks or months. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is permanent if it persists for more than a year. In these circumstances, the treatment approach changes to controlling your symptoms over the long run.

Here are some ways to accomplish this:

  • 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 go into the background by turning up the volume on everything else.
  • Masking device: This device goes in your ear a lot like a hearing aid, but it produces particular noises instead of amplifying things. This noise is custom tailored to your tinnitus, drowning out the sound so you can pay attention to voices, or other sounds you actually want to hear.
  • Therapy: In some situations, therapy, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be utilized to help patients disregard the noise caused by their tinnitus. You disregard the sound after acknowledging it. It will take some therapy, practice, and time though.

In some situations, additional therapies might be required to accomplish the desired result. Getting rid of the tinnitus will frequently call for treatment to the underlying concussion. The right course of action will depend on the status of your concussion and your TBI. In this regard, an accurate diagnosis is key.

Find out what the best plan of treatment may be for you by getting in touch with us.

TBI-caused tinnitus can be controlled

A concussion can be a substantial and traumatic situation in your life. 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 instantly after the crash that tinnitus symptoms surface. But you can effectively manage tinnitus after a crash and that’s important to keep in mind. Give us a call today to schedule 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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