Illini Hearing - Champaign and Mahomet, IL

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 nearby and their ears start ringing? Well, at least some amount 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 signifies a condition called tinnitus. Normally, hearing loss is the subject of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also trigger this condition.

Concussions, after all, are one of the most prevalent traumatic brain injuries that happen. And there are lots of reasons concussions can occur (for example, falls, sports accidents, and motor vehicle crashes). It can be somewhat complicated sorting out how a concussion can lead to tinnitus. But here’s the good news: even if you sustain a brain injury that triggers tinnitus, you can usually treat and manage your condition.

Concussions, exactly what are they?

A concussion is a particular form of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Think about it like this: your brain is nestled pretty tightly into your skull (your brain is big, and your skull is there to protect it). When something occurs and shakes the head violently enough, your brain begins moving around inside of your skull. But your brain could end up smashing into the inside of your skull because of the small amount of extra space in there.

This causes damage to your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be impacted by your brain. And this is what results in a concussion. This example makes it quite clear that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Symptoms of concussions include the following:

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

Although this list makes the point, it’s by no means exhaustive. Several weeks to several months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. Brain damage from one concussion is typically not permanent, most individuals will end up making a total recovery. However, repetitive or multiple concussions are a different story (generally speaking, it’s the best idea to avoid these).

How do concussions cause tinnitus?

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

The question of concussions and tinnitus is an interesting one. Not surprisingly, concussions won’t be the only brain traumas that can trigger tinnitus symptoms. That ringing in your ears can be activated by even minor brain injuries. That might occur in a couple of ways:

  • Interruption 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 substantial concussive, impactive event. Tinnitus can be triggered by this and it can also disrupt your ability to hear.
  • 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 due to your TBI. Tinnitus and hearing loss, due to inflammation, can be the result of this damage.
  • Meniere’s Syndrome: The development of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be a consequence of a TBI. This is a result of an accumulation of pressure inside of the inner ear. Sooner or later, Meniere’s syndrome can result in noticeable tinnitus and hearing loss.
  • Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some situations, harm the portions of the brain that control hearing. Consequently, the messages sent from the ear to your brain can’t be precisely processed and tinnitus can result.
  • Damage to your hearing: Enduring an explosion at close range is the cause of concussions and TBIs for many members of the armed forces. Permanent hearing loss can be caused when the stereocilia in your ears are injured by the exceptionally noisy shock wave of an explosion. So it isn’t so much that the concussion caused tinnitus, it’s that the tinnitus and concussion have a common root cause.

It’s important to stress that every traumatic brain injury and concussion is a bit different. Every patient will receive personalized care and instructions from us. You should certainly give us a call for an assessment if you think you may have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

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

Usually, it will be a temporary challenge if tinnitus is the result of a concussion. How long does tinnitus linger after a concussion? Well, it may last weeks or months. However, if your tinnitus has lingered for more than a year, it’s likely to be irreversible. In these situations, the treatment strategy changes to controlling your symptoms over the long run.

Here are some ways to accomplish this:

  • Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to overlook the sound by engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You accept that the noise is present, and then ignore it. It will take some therapy, practice, and time though.
  • Masking device: This device is similar to a hearing aid, but instead of helping you hear things more loudly, it produces a distinct noise in your ear. Your distinct tinnitus symptoms dictate what sound the device will generate helping you ignore the tinnitus sounds and be better able to focus on voices and other outside sounds.
  • Hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes prominent because the rest of the world takes a back seat (as is the case with non-TBI-caused hearing loss, everything else becomes quieter, so your tinnitus seems louder). Hearing aids help your tinnitus fade into the background by turning up the volume on everything else.

Obtaining the desired result will, in some situations, require added therapies. Treatment of the root concussion might be necessary in order to get rid of the tinnitus. Depending on the status of your concussion, there could be a number of possible courses of action. As a result, an accurate diagnosis is incredibly 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 substantial 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 do I have ringing in my ears after a car accident?

It may be days later or instantly after the accident that tinnitus symptoms surface. But you can successfully manage tinnitus after an accident and that’s significant to keep in mind. Contact us today to make 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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