Concussions & Tinnitus: What’s the Connection?

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

You Know when you’re watching 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 mild traumatic brain injury!

Obviously, action movies don’t emphasize the brain injury part. But that high-pitched ringing is something 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 more common traumatic brain injuries that occur. And they can happen for numerous reasons (for instance, falls, sporting accidents, and motor vehicle crashes). How something like a concussion causes tinnitus can be, well, complex. Fortunately, treating and managing your conditions is typically very attainable.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a particular form of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Think about it this way: your brain is situated pretty tightly into your skull (your brain is big, and your skull is there to protect it). The brain will begin to move around in your skull when something shakes your head violently. But your brain could wind up smashing into the inside of your skull because of the small amount of extra space in there.

This harms your brain! The brain can impact one or more sides of your skull. And when this occurs, you get a concussion. When you visualize this, it makes it easy to understand how a concussion is literally brain damage. Here are some symptoms of a concussion:

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

This list isn’t exhaustive, but you get the idea. A few weeks to several months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. Brain injury from a single concussion is generally not permanent, most people will end up making a complete recovery. However, repetitive or multiple concussions are a bigger problem (generally, it’s the best idea to avoid these).

How is tinnitus triggered by a concussion?

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

The matter of concussions and tinnitus is an intriguing one. Because it’s more correct to say that traumatic brain injuries (even mild ones) can cause tinnitus, It isn’t just concussions. Even minor brain injuries can result in that ringing in your ears. Here are a couple of ways that might happen:

  • A “labyrinthine” concussion: This form of concussion occurs when the inner ear is injured due to your TBI. Tinnitus and hearing loss, due to inflammation, can be the consequence of this damage.
  • Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some instances, damage the parts of the brain that control hearing. When this happens, the messages that get transmitted from your ear can’t be correctly dealt with, and tinnitus may occur consequently.
  • Nerve damage: A concussion might also cause damage to the nerve that is in charge of transmitting the sounds you hear to your brain.
  • 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. This can interrupt your ability to hear and cause tinnitus.
  • Damage to your hearing: Experiencing an explosion at close range is the cause of concussions and TBIs for many members of the military. And explosions are very loud, the sound and the shock wave can damage the stereocilia in your ear, causing hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t inevitably caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some common causes.
  • Meniere’s Syndrome: The onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be a consequence of a TBI. When pressure builds up in the inner ear this condition can happen. Sooner or later, Meniere’s syndrome can lead to noticeable tinnitus and hearing loss.

Of course it’s important to keep in mind that no two brain injuries are exactly alike. Every patient will get personalized care and instructions from us. Indeed, if you think you have suffered a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you need to call us for an assessment right away.

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

Usually, it will be a temporary scenario if tinnitus is the result of a concussion. How long can tinnitus linger after a concussion? Weeks or months, unfortunately, could be the time period. However, if your tinnitus has lasted for more than a year, it’s likely to be permanent. In these situations, the treatment approach changes to controlling your symptoms over the long term.

Here are some ways to accomplish this:

  • 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. This technique requires therapy and practice.
  • Masking device: This device goes in your ear much like a hearing aid, but it produces particular noises instead of amplifying things. Your distinct tinnitus symptoms determine what sound the device will produce helping you disregard the tinnitus sounds and be better able to pay attention to voices and other outside sounds.
  • 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. Hearing aids help your tinnitus go into the background by turning the volume up on everything else.

In some situations, further therapies may be required to obtain the expected result. Treatment of the underlying concussion may be required in order to get rid of the tinnitus. Depending on the nature of your concussion, there could be a number of possible courses of action. This means an accurate diagnosis is extremely important in this regard.

Find out what the best plan of treatment might be for you by getting in touch with us.

TBI-caused tinnitus can be managed

A concussion can be a substantial and traumatic event 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 may wonder why.

It could be days later or instantly after the accident that tinnitus symptoms surface. However, it’s important to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be successfully managed. Call us today to schedule 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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