You Know when you’re viewing an action movie and the hero has a loud explosion close by and their ears start ringing? Well, guess what: that probably means our hero sustained at least a minor traumatic brain injury!
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. Normally, hearing loss is the topic of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also trigger this condition.
After all, one of the most prevalent traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And they can occur for numerous reasons (car accidents, sports accidents, and falls, for instance). How something such as a concussion triggers tinnitus can be, well, complex. Luckily, treating and managing your conditions is usually very attainable.
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. When something comes along and shakes the head violently enough, your brain begins moving around inside of your skull. But because there’s so little extra space in there, your brain could literally smash into the inside of your skull.
This hurts your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be hit by your brain. And this is what results in a concussion. This example makes it quite evident that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Here are some symptoms of a concussion:
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- Loss of memory and confusion
- A slow or delayed response to questions
- Slurred speech
- Vomiting and nausea
- Ringing in the ears
Although this list makes the point, it’s by no means exhaustive. A few weeks to several months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. When somebody gets one concussion, they will usually make a complete recovery. But repeated concussions can lead to permanent brain damage.
How do concussions cause tinnitus?
Can a concussion interfere with your hearing? Really?
It’s an intriguing question: what is the link between concussions and tinnitus? Not surprisingly, concussions aren’t the only brain traumas that can cause tinnitus symptoms. Even minor brain injuries can result in that ringing in your ears. That might happen in a few ways:
- Disruption of communication: In some instances, the portion of your brain that controls hearing can become harmed by a concussion. As a result, the messages sent from the ear to your brain can’t be correctly digested and tinnitus can be the outcome.
- A “labyrinthine” concussion: When your TBI damages the inner ear this kind of concussion occurs. Tinnitus and hearing loss, due to inflammation, can be the result of this damage.
- Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three bones in your ear that help send sounds to your brain. A significant impact (the kind that can cause a concussion, for instance) can jostle these bones out of place. Tinnitus can be caused by this and it can also interrupt your hearing.
- Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is in charge of transmitting sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can harm.
- Damage to your hearing: Experiencing an explosion at close range is the cause of concussions and TBIs for lots of members of the armed forces. Permanent hearing loss can be triggered when the stereocilia in your ears are damaged by the incredibly noisy shock wave of an explosion. Tinnitus isn’t always caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some root causes.
- Meniere’s Syndrome: A TBI can cause the onset of a condition called Meniere’s Syndrome. This is a consequence of an accumulation of pressure within the inner ear. Eventually, Meniere’s syndrome can lead to noticeable tinnitus and hearing loss.
It’s significant to emphasize that every traumatic brain injury and concussion is a bit different. Personalized care and instructions, from us, will be provided to every patient. Certainly, if you think you have experienced a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you need to call us for an assessment as soon as possible.
How do you treat tinnitus from a concussion?
Usually, it will be a temporary scenario if tinnitus is the consequence of a concussion. How long can tinnitus linger after a concussion? Weeks or possibly months, unfortunately, could be the time frame. However, if your tinnitus has lasted for more than a year, it’s likely to be long lasting. Over time, in these circumstances, treatment plans to manage your condition will be the optimal plan.
Here are some ways to achieve this:
- Masking device: This device is similar to a hearing aid, but instead of helping you hear things more loudly, it produces a particular noise in your ear. Your specific tinnitus symptoms determine what sound the device will generate helping you disregard the tinnitus sounds and be better able to focus on voices and other external sounds.
- Therapy: In some cases, therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be used to help patients disregard the noise produced by their tinnitus. You ignore the sound after acknowledging it. It will take some therapy, practice, and time though.
- Hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes dominant because the rest of the world goes into the background (as is the situation with non-TBI-caused hearing loss, everything else gets quieter, so your tinnitus sounds louder). Hearing aids help your tinnitus fade into the background by turning the volume up on everything else.
Achieving the desired result will, in some situations, require additional therapies. Getting rid of the tinnitus will often require treatment to the underlying concussion. The right course of action will depend on the status of your concussion and your TBI. This means a precise diagnosis is extremely important in this regard.
Discover what the best plan of treatment might be for you by giving us a call.
You can control tinnitus caused by a TBI
A concussion can be a significant and traumatic event in your life. When you get a concussion, it’s a bad day! And if your ears are ringing, you might ask yourself, why are my ears ringing after a car crash?
It may be days later or instantly after the crash that tinnitus symptoms emerge. But you can effectively manage tinnitus after an accident and that’s important to keep in mind. Schedule a consultation with us today.