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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, guess what: that most likely means our hero sustained at least a minor traumatic brain injury!

Naturally, action movies don’t emphasize the brain injury part. But that high-pitched ringing is something known as tinnitus. Usually, 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 occur. And there are lots of reasons concussions can happen (car accidents, sporting accidents, and falls, for example). It can be a bit complex sorting out how a concussion can cause tinnitus. But the good news is that even if you sustain a brain injury that causes tinnitus, you can normally treat and manage your condition.

Concussions, exactly what are they?

A concussion is brain trauma of a very particular kind. One way to view it is that your brain is protected by sitting tightly in your skull. The brain will start to move around in your skull when something shakes your head violently. But because there’s so little extra space in there, your brain may literally smash into the inside of your skull.

This causes damage to your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be hit by your brain. And when this happens, you get a concussion. This example makes it quite clear that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Symptoms of concussions include the following:

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

Even though this list makes the point, it’s certainly not exhaustive. Symptoms from a concussion can continue anywhere between a few weeks and several months. Brain injury from a single concussion is typically not permanent, most individuals will end up making a full recovery. But recurring concussions can result in permanent brain damage.

How do concussions cause tinnitus?

Can a concussion interfere with your hearing? Really?

It’s an interesting question: what is the link between concussions and tinnitus? After all, concussions are not the only brain traumas that can cause tinnitus symptoms. That ringing in your ears can be triggered by even mild brain injuries. Here are a couple of ways that could take place:

  • Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three tiny bones in your ear that help send sounds to your brain. These bones can be knocked out of place by a significant concussive, impactive event. Tinnitus can be caused by this and it can also interrupt your ability to hear.
  • A “labyrinthine” concussion: This form of concussion takes place when the inner ear is damaged due to your TBI. Tinnitus and hearing loss, due to inflammation, can be the consequence of this damage.
  • Disruption of communication: In some instances, the part of your brain that controls hearing can become damaged by a concussion. Consequently, the signals sent from the ear to your brain can’t be correctly processed and tinnitus can result.
  • Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is in charge of transmitting sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can harm.
  • Meniere’s Syndrome: The development of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be a consequence of a TBI. This is caused by the buildup of pressure inside of the inner ear. Significant hearing loss and tinnitus can become a problem over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
  • Damage to your hearing: Experiencing an explosion at close range is the cause of concussions and TBIs for many members of the military. Permanent hearing loss can be triggered when the stereocilia in your ears are injured by the incredibly loud shock wave of an explosion. So it isn’t so much that the concussion caused tinnitus, it’s that the tinnitus and concussion have the same root cause.

Of course it’s significant to keep in mind that no two brain injuries are exactly alike. Every patient will get personalized care and instructions from us. You should definitely give us a call for an evaluation if you think you may have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

How do you treat tinnitus from a concussion?

Most often, tinnitus caused by a concussion or traumatic brain injury will be temporary. How long can tinnitus linger after a concussion? Weeks or possibly months, sadly, could be the time frame. However, if your tinnitus has lingered 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 best strategy.

Here are some ways to accomplish this:

  • Masking device: This device is a lot like a hearing aid, but instead of helping you hear things louder, it produces a distinct noise in your ear. This noise is custom tailored to your tinnitus, overpowering the sound so you can pay attention to voices, or other sounds you actually want to hear.
  • 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. A hearing aid can help raise the volume of everything else, ensuring that your tinnitus fades into the background.
  • Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to disregard the sound by undertaking cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You disregard the sound after acknowledging it. It will require some therapy, practice, and time though.

Achieving the expected result will, in some cases, call for added therapies. Treatment of the underlying concussion might be required in order to make the tinnitus go away. Depending on the status of your concussion, there could be several possible courses of action. This means an accurate diagnosis is incredibly important in this regard.

Consult us about what the ideal treatment plan may look like for you.

You can manage tinnitus caused by a TBI

Your life can be traumatically affected by a concussion. It’s never a good day when you get concussed! And if you’ve been in a car accident and your ears are ringing, you might wonder why.

It could be days later or immediately after the accident that tinnitus symptoms emerge. But you can effectively control tinnitus after a crash and that’s important 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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