Concussions & Tinnitus: What’s the Link?

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

You Know when you’re watching an action movie and the hero has a loud explosion close by and their ears begin to ring? Well, guess what: that 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 linger on. But that high-pitched ringing is something 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 occur. And they can occur for a wide variety of reasons (car accidents, sporting accidents, and falls, for example). It can be somewhat complicated sorting out how a concussion can lead to tinnitus. Luckily, treating and managing your conditions is typically very attainable.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a specific kind of traumatic brain injury (TBI). One way to view it is that your brain is protected by fitting tightly in your skull. When something occurs and shakes the head violently enough, your brain begins moving around inside of your skull. But because there’s so little additional space in there, your brain may literally smash into the inside of your skull.

This harms your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be impacted by your brain. And when this happens, you experience a concussion. When you visualize this, it makes it easy to understand how a concussion is literally brain damage. Here are some symptoms of a concussion:

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

This list is not exhaustive, but you get the point. Several weeks to a few months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. Brain damage from a single concussion is typically not permanent, most people will end up making a complete recovery. But, repetitive or multiple concussions are a bigger problem (generally, it’s a good idea to avoid these).

How do concussions cause tinnitus?

Can a concussion interfere with your hearing? Really?

The question of concussions and tinnitus is an intriguing one. Because it’s more correct to say that traumatic brain injuries (even minor ones) can result in tinnitus, It isn’t just concussions. That ringing in your ears can be triggered by even mild brain injuries. Here are a few ways that could happen:

  • Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is responsible for sending sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can damage.
  • Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some instances, damage the parts of the brain that control hearing. As a result, the messages sent from the ear to your brain can’t be properly processed and tinnitus can result.
  • 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 really loud, the sound and the shock wave can damage the stereocilia in your ear, causing hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some root causes.
  • Meniere’s Syndrome: A TBI can cause the development of a condition called Meniere’s Syndrome. This is a consequence of an accumulation of pressure inside of the inner ear. Substantial hearing loss and tinnitus can become a problem over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
  • 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 substantial concussive, impactive event. Tinnitus can be triggered by this and it can also interrupt your hearing.
  • A “labyrinthine” concussion: When your TBI damages the inner ear this form of concussion happens. Tinnitus and hearing loss, as a result of inflammation, can be the result of this damage.

Of course it’s important to note that no two brain injuries are precisely alike. Every patient will get individualized care and instructions from us. You should definitely call us for an evaluation if you believe you might have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

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

Most frequently, tinnitus caused by a concussion or traumatic brain damage will be temporary. How long can tinnitus last after a concussion? Weeks or possibly months, sadly, could be the time frame. Then again, if your tinnitus has lasted for more than a year, it’s likely to be irreversible. In these cases, the treatment approach changes to managing your symptoms over the long term.

This can be accomplished by:

  • Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to disregard the sound by engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You accept that the noise is present, and then disregard it. This technique requires therapy and practice.
  • 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 go into the background by turning the volume up on everything else.
  • Masking device: This device goes in your ear much like a hearing aid, but it creates particular noises instead of amplifying things. This noise is customized to your tinnitus, overpowering the sound so you can focus on voices, or other sounds you really want to hear.

In some cases, further therapies may be necessary to obtain the desired result. Clearing up the tinnitus will frequently call for treatment to the underlying concussion. The correct course of action will depend on the nature of your concussion and your TBI. As a result, an accurate diagnosis is extremely important in this regard.

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

You can manage tinnitus caused by a TBI

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

Tinnitus may surface immediately or in the days that follow. However, it’s essential to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be successfully managed. Schedule a consultation with us right away.

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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