Concussions & Tinnitus: What’s the Connection?

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 goes all high-pitched-buzzing? Well, guess what: that probably means our hero suffered at least a minor traumatic brain injury!

Obviously, action movies don’t highlight the brain injury part. But that ringing in our hero’s ears represents a condition called tinnitus. Tinnitus is most often discussed from the perspective of hearing loss, but it turns out that traumatic brain injuries like concussions can also trigger this particular ringing in the ears.

After all, one of the most prevalent traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And they can happen for many reasons (car accidents, sports accidents, and falls, for example). How something like a concussion causes tinnitus can be, well, complex. Luckily, treating and managing your conditions is usually very attainable.

Concussions, exactly what are they?

A concussion is brain trauma of a very particular kind. Think about it this way: your brain is nestled pretty tightly inside your skull (your brain is big, and your skull is there to protect it). When something occurs and shakes the head violently enough, your brain begins moving around inside of your skull. But your brain could end up smashing into the inside of your skull because of the small amount of additional space in there.

This harms your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be hit by your brain. And when this happens, you get a concussion. When you picture this, it makes it simple to see how a concussion is quite literally brain damage. Symptoms of concussions include the following:

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

Even though this list makes the point, it’s in no way complete. Several weeks to several months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. When somebody gets a single concussion, they will typically make a complete recovery. However, repetitive or multiple concussions are a bigger problem (generally speaking, it’s a good idea to avoid these).

How do concussions cause tinnitus?

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

It’s an interesting question: what is the link between tinnitus and concussions? Because it’s more correct to say that traumatic brain injuries (even mild ones) can result in tinnitus, It isn’t just concussions. That ringing in your ears can be set off by even minor brain injuries. That might happen in a few ways:

  • Disruption of communication: In some cases, the part of your brain that manages hearing can become harmed by a concussion. When this occurs, the messages that get transmitted from your ear cannot be correctly processed, and tinnitus might occur consequently.
  • 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. Permanent hearing loss can be triggered when the stereocilia in your ears are injured by the tremendously noisy shock wave of an explosion. So it isn’t so much that the concussion caused tinnitus, it’s that the tinnitus and concussion have the same underlying cause.
  • A “labyrinthine” concussion: This form of concussion happens when the inner ear is damaged as a result of your TBI. This damage can create inflammation and cause both hearing loss and tinnitus.
  • Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: The relaying of sound to your brain is assisted by three tiny bones in your ear. These bones can be knocked out of place by a substantial concussive, impactive event. Tinnitus can be caused by this and it can also disrupt your hearing.
  • Meniere’s Syndrome: A TBI can cause the onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome. This is a consequence of an accumulation of pressure inside of the inner ear. Significant hearing loss and tinnitus can become an issue over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
  • Nerve damage: A concussion might also cause injury to the nerve that is responsible for transmitting the sounds you hear to your brain.

It’s important to stress that every traumatic brain injury and concussion is a bit different. Personalized care and instructions, from us, will be provided to every patient. Indeed, 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.

How do you manage tinnitus caused by a concussion?

Typically, it will be a temporary challenge if tinnitus is the consequence of a concussion. After a concussion, how long can I expect my tinnitus to last? Weeks or possibly months, sadly, could be the time period. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is permanent if it lasts more than a year. In these cases, the treatment strategy changes to controlling your symptoms over the long term.

This can be achieved by:

  • Therapy: In some situations, therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be utilized to help patients disregard the noise produced by their tinnitus. You disregard the sound after accepting it. This technique takes therapy and practice.
  • Masking device: This device is similar to a hearing aid, only instead of helping you hear things louder, it creates a particular noise in your ear. Your particular tinnitus symptoms determine what sound the device will generate helping you disregard the tinnitus sounds and be better able to focus on voices and other external sounds.
  • 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 becomes quieter, so your tinnitus seems louder). A hearing aid can help turn the volume up on everything else, assuring that your tinnitus fades into the background.

Obtaining the desired result will, in some cases, require added therapies. Management of the root concussion might be necessary in order to get rid of the tinnitus. The correct course of action will depend on the status of your concussion and your TBI. This means an accurate diagnosis is incredibly important in this regard.

Find out what the best plan of treatment might be for you by giving us a call.

TBI-triggered tinnitus can be controlled

Your life can be traumatically affected by a concussion. It’s never a good day when you get a concussion! And if you have ringing in your ears, you may ask yourself, why do I have ringing in my ears after a car accident?

It could be days later or instantly after the crash that tinnitus symptoms emerge. But you can effectively manage tinnitus after an accident and that’s important to keep in mind. Schedule a consultation with us today.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive a personalized free hearing test and hearing loss consultation, call today to set up an appointment.

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