Concussions & Tinnitus: What’s the Link?

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 close by and their ears begin to ring? Well, guess what: that most likely means our hero suffered at least a minor traumatic brain injury!

To be certain, brain injuries aren’t the part that most action movies linger on. But that high-pitched ringing is something known as tinnitus. Normally, hearing loss is the subject of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also cause this condition.

After all, one of the most prevalent traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And they can occur for numerous reasons (car accidents, sports accidents, and falls, for example). How something such as a concussion causes tinnitus can be, well, complex. But the good news is that even if you suffer a brain injury that triggers tinnitus, you can normally treat and manage your condition.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a specific form of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Think about it like this: your brain is situated fairly 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 may literally smash into the inside of your skull.

This harms your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be hit by your brain. And when this occurs, you get a concussion. When you visualize this, it makes it easy to see how a concussion is literally brain damage. Here are some symptoms of a concussion:

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

Although this list makes the point, it’s by no means complete. Symptoms from a concussion can persist anywhere between several weeks and several months. When somebody gets one concussion, they will typically make a full recovery. But, repetitive or multiple concussions are a bigger problem (generally, it’s a good idea to avoid these).

How do concussions trigger tinnitus?

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

The question of concussions and tinnitus is an interesting one. Not surprisingly, concussions are not the only brain traumas that can cause tinnitus symptoms. Even mild brain injuries can result in that ringing in your ears. That may occur in a few ways:

  • Meniere’s Syndrome: A TBI can cause the onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome. This is caused by the buildup of pressure within the inner ear. Significant hearing loss and tinnitus can become a problem over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
  • Nerve damage: A concussion might also trigger injury to the nerve that is responsible for transmitting the sounds you hear to your brain.
  • Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some instances, damage the portions of the brain that control hearing. As a result, the signals sent from the ear to your brain can’t be correctly digested and tinnitus can be the outcome.
  • Damage to your hearing: Experiencing an explosion at close range is the cause of concussions and TBIs for lots of members of the armed forces. And explosions are really loud, the sound and the shock wave can damage the stereocilia in your ear, triggering hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t inevitably caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some root causes.
  • A “labyrinthine” concussion: When your TBI damages the inner ear this type of concussion occurs. This damage can cause inflammation and cause both hearing loss and tinnitus.
  • Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: The relaying of sound to your brain is aided by three bones in your ear. These bones can be pushed out of place by a significant concussive, impactive event. Tinnitus can be caused by this and it can also interrupt your hearing.

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

How do you manage tinnitus from a concussion?

Usually, it will be a temporary scenario if tinnitus is the consequence of a concussion. After a concussion, how long can I expect my tinnitus to last? Weeks or months, unfortunately, could be the time period. However, if your tinnitus has lingered for more than a year, it’s likely to be long lasting. In these circumstances, the treatment plan changes to controlling your symptoms over the long run.

This can be accomplished by:

  • Hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes pronounced because the rest of the world takes a back seat (as is the situation with non-TBI-caused hearing loss, everything else gets quieter, so your tinnitus sounds louder). Hearing aids help your tinnitus go into the background by turning the volume up on everything else.
  • Therapy: In some cases, therapy, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be used to help patients disregard the noise produced by their tinnitus. You disregard the sound after acknowledging it. This technique takes therapy and practice.
  • Masking device: This device is a lot like a hearing aid, only instead of helping you hear things louder, it produces a distinct noise in your ear. Your specific 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.

Achieving the expected result will, in some cases, call for additional therapies. Management of the underlying concussion may be required in order to make the tinnitus go away. Depending on the nature of your concussion, there could be several possible courses of action. In this regard, an accurate diagnosis is key.

Discover what the right plan of treatment may be for you by giving us a call.

You can control tinnitus caused by a TBI

A concussion can be a significant and traumatic situation in your life. It’s never a good day when you get concussed! And if you have ringing in your ears, you may ask yourself, why do I have ringing in my ears after a car crash?

Tinnitus may surface instantly or in the days that follow. But you can effectively manage tinnitus after a crash and that’s important to keep in mind. Call us today to make 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.