Concussions & Tinnitus: What’s the Link?

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

You Know when you’re viewing an action movie and the hero has a loud explosion close by and their ears begin to ring? Well, guess what: that most likely means our hero sustained at least a minor traumatic brain injury!

To be certain, brain injuries aren’t the bit that most action movies linger on. But that ringing in our hero’s ears signifies a condition called tinnitus. Normally, hearing loss is the topic of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also cause this condition.

After all, one of the most common traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And they can occur for many reasons (for example, falls, sports accidents, and motor vehicle crashes). It can be a bit complicated sorting out how a concussion can trigger tinnitus. Fortunately, treating and managing your conditions is usually very achievable.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is brain trauma of a very distinct kind. One way to view it is that your brain is protected by sitting snuggly in your skull. The brain will begin moving around in your skull when something shakes your head violently. But your brain could end up smashing into the inside of your skull because of the small amount of extra space in there.

This hurts 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 simple to see how a concussion is literally brain damage. Symptoms of concussions include the following:

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

Even though this list makes the point, it’s in no way exhaustive. A few weeks to several months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. Brain damage from one concussion is generally not permanent, most people will end up making a total recovery. But recurring concussions can lead to irreversible brain damage.

How is tinnitus caused by a concussion?

Is it actually feasible that a concussion may impact your hearing?

The question of concussions and tinnitus is an intriguing one. Not surprisingly, concussions won’t be the only brain traumas that can cause tinnitus symptoms. Even mild brain injuries can result in that ringing in your ears. That might occur in a couple of ways:

  • Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three tiny bones in your ear that help send sounds to your brain. A major impact (the kind that can cause a concussion, for instance) can push these bones out of place. This can disrupt your ability to hear and cause tinnitus.
  • A “labyrinthine” concussion: This type of concussion happens when the inner ear is injured due to your TBI. Tinnitus and hearing loss, due to inflammation, can be the consequence of this damage.
  • Damage to your hearing: Experiencing an explosion at close range is the cause of concussions and TBIs for lots of members of the military. And explosions are really loud, the sound and the shock wave can harm the stereocilia in your ear, causing hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t necessarily caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some root causes.
  • Nerve damage: A concussion might also cause injury to the nerve that is responsible for transferring the sounds you hear to your brain.
  • Disruption of communication: In some instances, the part of your brain that controls hearing can become damaged by a concussion. Consequently, the messages sent from the ear to your brain can’t be properly digested and tinnitus can be the outcome.
  • Meniere’s Syndrome: The onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be caused by a TBI. This is a consequence of the buildup of pressure inside of the inner ear. Eventually, Meniere’s syndrome can lead to noticeable tinnitus and hearing loss.

Of course it’s significant to keep in mind that no two brain injuries are precisely the same. Every patient will receive individualized care and instructions from us. Certainly, if you think you have suffered a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you need to call us for an evaluation as soon as possible.

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

Most often, tinnitus triggered by a concussion or traumatic brain injury will be temporary. How long can tinnitus linger after a concussion? Well, it could last weeks or months. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is irreversible if it lasts more than a year. Over time, in these circumstances, treatment plans to manage your condition will be the best strategy.

This can be accomplished by:

  • Hearing aid: In a similar way to when you have hearing loss not caused by a TBI, tinnitus symptoms seem louder because everything else is quieter. Hearing aids help your tinnitus fade into the background by turning up the volume on everything else.
  • Masking device: This device goes inside your ear much like a hearing aid, but it generates specific noises instead of amplifying things. This noise is custom tailored to your tinnitus, overpowering the sound so you can focus on voices, or other sounds you actually want to hear.
  • Therapy: In some cases, therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be utilized to help patients ignore the noise produced by their tinnitus. You ignore the sound after acknowledging it. This technique requires therapy and practice.

In some cases, further therapies might be necessary to achieve the expected result. Getting rid of the tinnitus will frequently 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.

Learn what the best plan of treatment may be for you by giving us a call.

You can manage tinnitus caused by a TBI

A concussion can be a substantial and traumatic situation in your life. It’s never a good day when you get a concussion! And if you’ve been in a car crash and your ears are ringing, you might wonder why.

Tinnitus may emerge immediately or in the following days. However, it’s important to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be successfully managed. Call us today to make an appointment.

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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