Concussions & Tinnitus: What’s the Link?

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 thunderous explosion nearby and their ears begin to ring? Well, guess what: that probably means our hero sustained at least a minor traumatic brain injury!

To be sure, brain injuries aren’t the bit that most action movies focus on. But that high-pitched ringing is something called tinnitus. Normally, hearing loss is the topic of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also cause this condition.

After all, one of the most common traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And they can happen for many reasons (for example, falls, sports accidents, and motor vehicle accidents). It can be a bit complex sorting out how a concussion can cause tinnitus. But here’s the good news: even if you suffer a brain injury that causes tinnitus, you can usually treat and manage your condition.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a particular kind of traumatic brain injury (TBI). 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 begin moving around in 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 harm to your brain! The brain can hit one or more sides of your skull. And this is what brings about a concussion. This example makes it quite evident that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Symptoms of concussions include the following:

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

This list isn’t complete, but you get the idea. Symptoms from a concussion can last anywhere between a few weeks and several months. Brain injury from a single concussion is generally not permanent, most individuals will end up making a full recovery. But recurring concussions can cause permanent brain damage.

How is tinnitus caused by a concussion?

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

The question of concussions and tinnitus is an interesting one. Not surprisingly, concussions aren’t the only brain traumas that can trigger tinnitus symptoms. That ringing in your ears can be activated by even mild brain injuries. That may occur in a few ways:

  • Disruption of communication: In some cases, the portion of your brain that manages hearing can become harmed by a concussion. As a result, the messages sent from the ear to your brain can’t be precisely processed and tinnitus can be the outcome.
  • 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, triggering hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t inevitably caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some root causes.
  • Nerve damage: A concussion may also trigger injury to the nerve that is responsible for transferring the sounds you hear to your brain.
  • A “labyrinthine” concussion: When your TBI injures the inner ear this kind of concussion happens. Tinnitus and hearing loss, as a result of inflammation, can be the consequence of this damage.
  • Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: The transmission of sound to your brain is aided by three bones in your ear. A substantial impact (the kind that can trigger a concussion, for instance) can jostle these bones out of position. Tinnitus can be triggered by this and it can also disrupt your ability to hear.
  • Meniere’s Syndrome: A TBI can cause the onset of a condition called Meniere’s Syndrome. This is a consequence of the buildup of pressure within the inner ear. Sooner or later, Meniere’s syndrome can lead to noticeable tinnitus and hearing loss.

It’s important to stress that every traumatic brain injury and concussion is a little different. Every patient will receive individualized care and instructions from us. You should certainly call us for an assessment if you believe you might have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

How do you treat tinnitus caused by a concussion?

Usually, it will be a temporary situation if tinnitus is the result of a concussion. After a concussion, how long can I anticipate my tinnitus to linger? Well, it may last weeks or possibly months. 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 best plan.

Here are some ways to achieve this:

  • 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 produces a particular noise in your ear. Your specific tinnitus symptoms dictate what sound the device will generate helping you ignore the tinnitus sounds and be better able to focus on voices and other external sounds.
  • 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 turn the volume up on everything else, ensuring that your tinnitus fades into the background.

Obtaining the expected result will, in some cases, require additional therapies. Management of the root concussion might be required in order to get rid of the tinnitus. Depending on the status of your concussion, there could be several possible courses of action. This means a precise diagnosis is extremely important in this regard.

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

You can manage tinnitus caused by a TBI

Your life can be traumatically impacted by a concussion. When you get concussed, it’s a bad day! And if your ears are ringing, you may ask yourself, why are my ears ringing after a car crash?

Tinnitus may surface immediately or in the following days. But you can successfully control tinnitus after an accident and that’s significant 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.

Questions? Talk To Us.