Concussions & Tinnitus: What’s the Connection?

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

You Know when you’re watching an action movie and the hero has a loud explosion close by and their ears start ringing? Well, guess what: that likely means our hero sustained at least a mild traumatic brain injury!

To be sure, 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 often talked about in the context of hearing loss, but it turns out that traumatic brain injuries such as concussions can also lead to this particular ringing in the ears.

After all, one of the most common traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And there are quite a few reasons concussions can happen (car crashes, sports accidents, and falls, for instance). How something like a concussion triggers tinnitus can be, well, complicated. 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 a specific kind of traumatic brain injury (TBI). One way to view it is that your brain is protected by fitting tightly in your skull. The brain will begin to move around in your skull when something shakes your head violently. But because there’s so little additional space in there, your brain could literally crash into the inside of your skull.

This causes harm to your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be hit by your brain. And this is what causes a concussion. When you visualize this, it makes it simple to understand how a concussion is quite literally brain damage. Symptoms of concussions include the following:

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

Although this list makes the point, it’s by no means exhaustive. Symptoms from a concussion can persist anywhere between several weeks and several months. When someone gets a single concussion, they will normally make a full recovery. But repeated concussions can result in irreversible brain damage.

How is tinnitus triggered by a concussion?

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

The question of concussions and tinnitus is an intriguing 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. Here are a few ways that may take place:

  • Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: The transmission of sound to your brain is aided by three tiny bones in your ear. These bones can be knocked out of place by a substantial concussive, impactive event. This can disrupt your ability to hear and cause tinnitus.
  • Meniere’s Syndrome: The onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be a consequence of a TBI. This is a consequence of the buildup of pressure inside of the inner ear. Sooner or later, Meniere’s syndrome can lead to noticeable tinnitus and hearing loss.
  • 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.
  • Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is responsible for sending sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can damage.
  • Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some instances, damage the parts of the brain that control hearing. As a result, the signals sent from the ear to your brain can’t be correctly processed and tinnitus can be the outcome.
  • Damage to your hearing: Enduring an explosion at close distance is the cause of concussions and TBIs for lots of members of the military. Permanent hearing loss can be triggered when the stereocilia in your ears are injured by the tremendously noisy shock wave of an explosion. Tinnitus isn’t inevitably caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some root causes.

It’s significant to emphasize that every traumatic brain injury and concussion is a little different. Every patient will receive personalized care and instructions from us. Indeed, if you think you have suffered a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you should call us for an assessment as soon as possible.

How do you manage tinnitus from a concussion?

Most often, tinnitus triggered by a concussion or traumatic brain injury will be temporary. After a concussion, how long can I expect my tinnitus to linger? Well, it might last weeks or possibly months. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is permanent if it persists for more than a year. Over time, in these circumstances, treatment plans to manage your condition will be the best strategy.

This can be accomplished by:

  • Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to ignore the sound by undertaking cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You ignore the sound after accepting it. It will take some therapy, practice, and time though.
  • Masking device: This device is similar to a hearing aid, but instead of helping you hear things louder, it creates a particular noise in your ear. This noise is custom tailored to your tinnitus, overpowering the sound so you can pay attention to voices, or other sounds you really want to hear.
  • Hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes prominent because the rest of the world goes into the background (as is the case with non-TBI-caused hearing loss, everything else gets quieter, so your tinnitus seems louder). 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 cases, call for added therapies. Management of the root concussion might be required in order to make the tinnitus go away. Depending on the nature of your concussion, there may be several possible courses of action. In this regard, an accurate diagnosis is key.

Talk to us about what the ideal treatment plan may look like for you.

You can control tinnitus caused by a TBI

A concussion can be a substantial and traumatic event in your life. When you get concussed, 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 accident?

Tinnitus may surface 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.

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.