What is The Link Between Concussions And Tinnitus?

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

You know that scene in your favorite action movie where something explodes next to the hero and the sound gets all high-pitched-buzzing? Well, at least some amount of minor brain trauma has likely happened to them.

To be certain, brain injuries aren’t the part that most action movies linger on. But that ringing in our hero’s ears signifies a condition called tinnitus. Tinnitus is most frequently discussed in the context of hearing loss, but actually, traumatic brain injuries like concussions can also lead to this particular ringing in the ears.

Concussions, after all, are one of the more common traumatic brain injuries that occur. And they can occur for numerous reasons (for example, falls, sporting accidents, and motor vehicle accidents). How something such as 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.

Concussions, exactly what are they?

A concussion is brain trauma of a very particular type. Think about it like this: your brain is nestled pretty tightly inside your skull (your brain is large, and your skull is there to protect it). The brain will start to move around inside 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 additional space in there.

This causes damage to your brain! The brain can hit one or more sides of your skull. And this is what causes a concussion. When you picture this, it makes it easy to understand how a concussion is literally brain damage. Symptoms of concussions include the following:

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

This list is not exhaustive, but you get the point. Several weeks to several months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. Brain injury from one concussion is typically not permanent, most people will end up making a total recovery. But, repeated or multiple concussions are a bigger problem (generally, it’s the best idea to avoid these).

How is tinnitus caused by a concussion?

Can a concussion mess with your hearing? Really?

The question of concussions and tinnitus is an interesting one. After all, 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:

  • Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some situations, harm the portions of the brain that control hearing. As a result, the messages sent from the ear to your brain can’t be properly processed and tinnitus can result.
  • Meniere’s Syndrome: The development of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be caused by a TBI. This is caused by an accumulation of pressure within the inner ear. Substantial hearing loss and tinnitus can become an issue over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
  • A “labyrinthine” concussion: When your TBI damages the inner ear this kind of concussion occurs. Tinnitus and hearing loss, as a result of inflammation, can be the consequence of this damage.
  • Damage to your hearing: For members of the military, TBIs and concussions are often a result of distance to an explosion. And explosions are incredibly loud, the sound and the shock wave can harm the stereocilia in your ear, causing hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some common causes.
  • Nerve damage: A concussion might also trigger injury to the nerve that is in charge of transmitting the sounds you hear to your brain.
  • Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: The relaying of sound to your brain is aided by three bones in your ear. A major impact (the type that can cause a concussion, for instance) can jostle these bones out of place. This can disrupt your ability to hear and result in tinnitus.

Of course it’s significant to keep in mind that no two brain injuries are exactly alike. Personalized care and instructions, from us, will be provided to every patient. Certainly, if you think you have experienced a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you need to call us for an assessment as soon as possible.

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

Most frequently, tinnitus caused by a concussion or traumatic brain injury will be temporary. After a concussion, how long can I anticipate my tinnitus to last? Weeks or possibly months, unfortunately, could be the time frame. However, if your tinnitus has lasted for more than a year, it’s likely to be irreversible. In these cases, the treatment plan changes to managing your symptoms over the long term.

Here are some ways to accomplish this:

  • 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. Hearing aids help your tinnitus fade into the background by turning up the volume on everything else.
  • Masking device: This device goes inside your ear much like a hearing aid, but it produces specific noises instead of making things louder. This noise is custom tailored to your tinnitus, drowning out the sound so you can pay attention to voices, or other sounds you actually want to hear.
  • Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to ignore the sound by engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You accept that the noise is there, and then ignore it. It will take some therapy, practice, and time though.

In some situations, additional therapies might be required to obtain the desired result. Clearing up the tinnitus will often require treatment to the underlying concussion. The correct course of action will depend on the status of your concussion and your TBI. In this regard, an accurate diagnosis is key.

Discover what the best plan of treatment may be for you by getting in touch with us.

TBI-triggered tinnitus can be managed

A concussion can be a significant and traumatic event in your life. When you get a concussion, it’s a bad day! And if your ears are ringing, you might ask yourself, why do I have ringing in my ears after a car crash?

It could be days later or instantly after the accident that tinnitus symptoms emerge. However, it’s important to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be managed effectively. 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.