You Know when you’re viewing an action movie and the hero has a loud explosion close by and their ears start ringing? Well, at least some degree of mild brain trauma has likely happened to them.
To be sure, brain injuries aren’t the bit that most action movies linger on. But that ringing in our hero’s ears represents a condition called tinnitus. Tinnitus is most frequently talked about in the context of hearing loss, but actually, traumatic brain injuries such as 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, sporting accidents, and motor vehicle crashes). How something such as a concussion causes tinnitus can be, well, complex. Luckily, treating and managing your conditions is usually very achievable.
Concussions, exactly what are they?
A concussion is brain trauma of a very specific type. One way to view it is that your brain is protected by fitting tightly in your skull. The brain will start to move 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 extra space in there.
This causes harm to your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be impacted by your brain. And this is what leads to a concussion. This illustration makes it quite evident that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Symptoms of concussions include the following:
- Blurry vision or dizziness
- Ringing in the ears
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Loss of memory and confusion
- Vomiting and nausea
- Slurred speech
This list isn’t exhaustive, but you get the idea. Symptoms from a concussion can persist anywhere between a few weeks and a few months. When somebody gets one concussion, they will normally make a complete recovery. But recurring concussions can result in permanent brain damage.
How is tinnitus caused by a concussion?
Can a concussion interfere with your hearing? Really?
The matter of concussions and tinnitus is an intriguing one. Because it’s more correct to say that traumatic brain injuries (even mild ones) can cause tinnitus, it’s not just concussions. Even minor brain injuries can result in that ringing in your ears. That may occur in a few ways:
- Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three tiny bones in your ear that help transfer sounds to your brain. These bones can be knocked out of place by a significant concussive, impactive event. This can disrupt your ability to hear and cause tinnitus.
- Damage to your hearing: Enduring an explosion at close range is the cause of concussions and TBIs for many members of the armed forces. And explosions are very loud, the noise and the shock wave can harm the stereocilia in your ear, triggering hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t necessarily caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some common causes.
- Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some instances, harm the parts of the brain that control hearing. When this occurs, the signals that get sent from your ear can’t be properly processed, and tinnitus might happen as a result.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: When your TBI damages the inner ear this kind of concussion happens. Tinnitus and hearing loss, as a result of inflammation, can be the consequence of this damage.
- Nerve damage: A concussion might also cause damage to the nerve that is responsible for transferring the sounds you hear to your brain.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: The onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be caused by a TBI. When pressure builds up in the inner ear this condition can happen. Eventually, Meniere’s syndrome can result in noticeable tinnitus and hearing loss.
Of course it’s significant to note that no two brain injuries are precisely the same. Individualized care and instructions, from us, will be provided to every patient. You should certainly call us for an evaluation if you think you might have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
How do you deal with tinnitus from a concussion?
Usually, it will be a temporary scenario if tinnitus is the consequence of a concussion. After a concussion, how long can I anticipate my tinnitus to linger? Weeks or possibly months, unfortunately, could be the time frame. Then again, if your tinnitus has lingered for more than a year, it’s likely to be long lasting. In these situations, the treatment strategy transitions to controlling your symptoms over the long term.
This can be achieved by:
- Hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes pronounced because the rest of the world takes a back seat (as is the situation with non-TBI-caused hearing loss, everything else becomes quieter, so your tinnitus seems louder). 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 a lot like a hearing aid, but it produces particular noises instead of making things louder. Your distinct tinnitus symptoms dictate what sound the device will produce helping you disregard the tinnitus sounds and be better able to focus on voices and other outside sounds.
- Therapy: In some cases, therapy, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be utilized to help patients disregard the noise caused by their tinnitus. You acknowledge that the noise is there, and then ignore it. It will take some therapy, practice, and time though.
Obtaining the desired result will, in some cases, require additional therapies. Treatment of the underlying concussion might be necessary in order to make the tinnitus go away. Depending on the nature of your concussion, there may be several possible courses of action. In this regard, an accurate diagnosis is key.
Find out what the right plan of treatment may be for you by giving us a call.
You can manage tinnitus caused by a TBI
Your life can be traumatically affected by a concussion. When you get a concussion, it’s a bad day! And if you’ve been in a car crash and your ears are ringing, you may wonder why.
Tinnitus may emerge immediately or in the days that follow. However, it’s important to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be successfully managed. Contact us today to make an appointment.