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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 begin to ring? Well, at least some amount of minor brain trauma has likely happened to them.

Obviously, action movies don’t highlight the brain injury part. But that high-pitched ringing is something known as tinnitus. Tinnitus is most often talked about in the context of hearing loss, but it turns out that traumatic brain injuries such as concussions can also lead to this particular ringing in the ears.

After all, one of the most prevalent traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And there are lots of reasons concussions can occur (car crashes, sporting accidents, and falls, for example). 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 type. Think about it like this: your brain is situated pretty tightly into your skull (your brain is large, and your skull is there to protect it). When anything comes along and shakes the head violently enough, your brain starts moving around in your skull. But because there’s so little additional space in there, your brain could literally crash into the inside of your skull.

This harms your brain! The brain can hit one or more sides of your skull. And this is what results in a concussion. This illustration makes it quite evident that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Here are some symptoms of a concussion:

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

Although this list makes the point, it’s by no means complete. Several weeks to several months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. When someone gets one concussion, they will usually make a full recovery. But, repeated or multiple concussions are a different story (generally speaking, it’s a good idea to avoid these).

How do concussions cause tinnitus?

Can a concussion interfere with your hearing? Really?

It’s an interesting question: what is the link between tinnitus and concussions? 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 couple of ways:

  • Damage to your hearing: Enduring an explosion at close range is the cause of concussions and TBIs for lots of members of the armed forces. Irreversible hearing loss can be triggered when the stereocilia in your ears are damaged by the exceptionally loud shock wave of an explosion. Tinnitus isn’t inevitably caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some common causes.
  • Disruption of communication: In some cases, the part of your brain that controls hearing can become damaged by a concussion. When this happens, the signals that get transmitted from your ear can’t be precisely dealt with, and tinnitus might occur as a result.
  • Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: The relaying of sound to your brain is assisted by three tiny bones in your ear. A substantial impact (the kind that can trigger a concussion, for example) can jostle these bones out of place. Tinnitus can be triggered by this and it can also interrupt your ability to hear.
  • 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: A TBI can cause the onset of a condition called Meniere’s Syndrome. This is caused by an accumulation of pressure within the inner ear. Sooner or later, Meniere’s syndrome can lead to significant tinnitus and hearing loss.
  • A “labyrinthine” concussion: This kind of concussion occurs when the inner ear is damaged due to your TBI. This damage can cause inflammation and lead to both hearing loss and tinnitus.

It’s significant to emphasize that every traumatic brain injury and concussion is a bit different. Every patient will get personalized care and instructions from us. You should certainly contact us for an evaluation if you think you might have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

How do you deal with tinnitus from a concussion?

Most often, tinnitus related to a concussion or traumatic brain injury will be short-term. How long does tinnitus last after a concussion? Weeks or months, sadly, could be the time period. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is long lasting if it persists for more than a year. In these circumstances, the treatment strategy changes to managing your symptoms over the long run.

This can be achieved 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. A hearing aid can help raise the volume of everything else, ensuring that your tinnitus fades into the background.
  • Therapy: In some situations, 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 present, and then disregard it. It will require some therapy, practice, and time though.
  • Masking device: This device is a lot like a hearing aid, only instead of helping you hear things more loudly, it creates a specific noise in your ear. This noise is customized to your tinnitus, drowning out the sound so you can pay attention to voices, or other sounds you really want to hear.

In some cases, additional therapies might be necessary to obtain the expected result. Clearing up the tinnitus will often require treatment to the underlying concussion. The correct course of action will depend on the nature of your concussion and your TBI. As a result, a precise diagnosis is extremely important in this regard.

Learn what the right plan of treatment might be for you by giving us a call.

You can manage tinnitus caused by a TBI

A concussion can be a significant and traumatic situation in your life. When you get concussed, it’s a bad day! And if you’ve been in a car crash and your ears are ringing, you might wonder why.

Tinnitus may surface immediately or in the days that follow. But you can effectively control tinnitus after an accident and that’s significant to keep in mind. Schedule a consultation with us right away.

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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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