Concussions & Tinnitus: What’s the Connection?

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, at least some degree of minor brain trauma has likely happened to them.

Obviously, action movies don’t emphasize the brain injury part. But that high-pitched ringing is something known as tinnitus. Normally, hearing loss is the topic of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also cause this condition.

Concussions, after all, are one of the most common traumatic brain injuries that occur. And they can happen for numerous reasons (for instance, falls, sports accidents, and motor vehicle accidents). It can be somewhat complex sorting out how a concussion can trigger tinnitus. But the good news is that even if you sustain a brain injury that causes tinnitus, you can normally treat and manage your condition.

Concussions, exactly what are they?

A concussion is brain trauma of a very particular kind. One way to view it is that your brain is protected by sitting tightly in your skull. The brain will start to move around in 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 harm to your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be impacted by your brain. And when this happens, you get a concussion. This illustration makes it quite clear that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Here are some symptoms of a concussion:

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

Although this list makes the point, it’s in no way complete. Several weeks to several months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. Brain damage from one concussion is typically not permanent, most people will end up making a complete recovery. But recurring concussions can cause permanent brain damage.

How do concussions cause tinnitus?

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

The matter of concussions and tinnitus is an interesting one. Because it’s more accurate to say that traumatic brain injuries (even mild ones) can lead to tinnitus, it’s not only concussions. That ringing in your ears can be set off by even minor brain injuries. Here are a couple of ways that might happen:

  • Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is responsible for sending sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can damage.
  • Damage to your hearing: For members of the military, TBIs and concussions are often caused by distance to an explosion. And explosions are really loud, the sound and the shock wave can harm the stereocilia in your ear, causing hearing loss and tinnitus. So it isn’t so much that the concussion brought about tinnitus, it’s that the tinnitus and concussion have a common underlying cause.
  • Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: The transmission of sound to your brain is assisted by three tiny bones in your ear. These bones can be knocked out of place by a significant concussive, impactive event. Tinnitus can be caused by this and it can also interrupt your hearing.
  • Meniere’s Syndrome: A TBI can cause the onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome. When pressure builds up in the inner ear this condition can happen. Eventually, Meniere’s syndrome can result in significant tinnitus and hearing loss.
  • Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some cases, damage the portions of the brain that manage hearing. When this happens, the messages that get transmitted from your ear cannot be correctly processed, and tinnitus may occur consequently.
  • A “labyrinthine” concussion: This type of concussion occurs 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.

Of course it’s significant to note that no two brain injuries are exactly alike. Personalized care and instructions, from us, will be provided to every patient. You should definitely give us a call for an evaluation if you believe you may have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

How do you manage tinnitus caused by a concussion?

Usually, it will be a temporary situation if tinnitus is the consequence of a concussion. How long does tinnitus last after a concussion? Weeks or possibly months, unfortunately, could be the time period. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is long lasting if it lasts more than a year. Over time, in these situations, treatment plans to manage your condition will be the optimal strategy.

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. A hearing aid can help raise the volume of everything else, ensuring that your tinnitus fades into the background.
  • Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to ignore the sound by engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You ignore the sound after acknowledging it. This technique requires therapy and practice.
  • Masking device: This device goes in your ear a lot like a hearing aid, but it produces specific noises instead of amplifying things. Your particular tinnitus symptoms determine what sound the device will generate helping you ignore the tinnitus sounds and be better able to pay attention to voices and other external sounds.

In some cases, additional therapies might be required to accomplish the expected result. Getting rid of the tinnitus will frequently call for treatment to the root concussion. The right course of action will depend on the status of your concussion and your TBI. In this regard, a precise diagnosis is key.

Talk to us about what the right treatment plan might look like for you.

TBI-caused tinnitus can be managed

Your life can be traumatically impacted by a concussion. When you get concussed, it’s a bad day! And if you’ve been in a car accident and your ears are ringing, you may wonder why.

Tinnitus may emerge immediately or in the days that follow. But you can successfully manage tinnitus after a crash and that’s significant to keep in mind. 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.