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 thunderous explosion nearby and their ears begin to ring? Well, at least some level of mild 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. Usually, hearing loss is the topic of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also trigger this condition.

After all, one of the most common traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And there are lots of reasons concussions can happen (car accidents, sports accidents, and falls, for example). How something like a concussion triggers tinnitus can be, well, complex. But the good news is that even if you sustain a brain injury that triggers tinnitus, you can usually treat and manage your condition.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a specific form of traumatic brain injury (TBI). One way to think about it is that your brain is protected by sitting snuggly in your skull. The brain will start to move around inside your skull when something shakes your head violently. But your brain could wind up crashing into the inside of your skull because of the small amount of additional space in there.

This causes damage to your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be hit by your brain. And when this happens, you experience a concussion. When you visualize this, it makes it simple to understand how a concussion is literally brain damage. Here are some symptoms of a concussion:

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

This list is not complete, but you get the idea. Symptoms from a concussion can last anywhere between a few weeks and several months. Brain injury from one concussion is generally not permanent, most individuals will end up making a complete recovery. However, repetitive or multiple concussions are a bigger problem (generally, it’s a good idea to avoid these).

How do concussions cause tinnitus?

Can a concussion interfere with your hearing? Really?

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

  • Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is responsible for sending sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can harm.
  • Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: The transmission of sound to your brain is aided by three bones in your ear. These bones can be knocked out of place by a substantial concussive, impactive event. Tinnitus can be triggered by this and it can also interrupt your ability to hear.
  • Meniere’s Syndrome: The development of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be caused by a TBI. This is a result of an accumulation of pressure inside of the inner ear. Eventually, Meniere’s syndrome can lead to noticeable tinnitus and hearing loss.
  • A “labyrinthine” concussion: This type of concussion takes place when the inner ear is injured as a result of your TBI. Tinnitus and hearing loss, as a result of inflammation, can be the consequence of this damage.
  • Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some cases, harm the portions of the brain that manage hearing. When this occurs, the messages that get sent from your ear cannot be precisely dealt with, and tinnitus might occur consequently.
  • Damage to your hearing: Enduring an explosion at close distance is the cause of concussions and TBIs for lots of members of the military. And explosions are incredibly loud, the sound and the shock wave can damage the stereocilia in your ear, triggering hearing loss and tinnitus. So it’s not 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 get individualized care and instructions from us. Indeed, if you think you have experienced a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you need to call us for an evaluation as soon as possible.

How do you treat tinnitus caused by a concussion?

Most frequently, tinnitus caused by a concussion or traumatic brain injury will be short-term. After a concussion, how long can I expect my tinnitus to last? Well, it could last weeks or possibly months. Then again, if your tinnitus has lingered for more than a year, it’s likely to be irreversible. In these situations, the treatment approach changes to controlling your symptoms over the long run.

This can be accomplished by:

  • Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to disregard the sound by engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You disregard the sound after acknowledging it. This technique takes therapy and practice.
  • Masking device: This device is similar to a hearing aid, but instead of helping you hear things louder, it creates a distinct 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.
  • Hearing aid: In a similar way to when you’re dealing with hearing loss not triggered 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.

Obtaining the desired result will, in some situations, call for additional therapies. Management of the root concussion may be required in order to get rid of the tinnitus. The right course of action will depend on the status of your concussion and your TBI. In this regard, an accurate diagnosis is key.

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

TBI-caused tinnitus can be managed

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 may ask yourself, why do I have ringing in my ears after a car crash?

Tinnitus could emerge instantly or in the days that follow. But you can successfully control tinnitus after a crash and that’s important to keep in mind. Call us today to schedule 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.