What is The Link Between Concussions And Tinnitus?

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, at least some amount of mild brain trauma has likely happened to them.

Naturally, action movies don’t emphasize the brain injury part. But that high-pitched ringing is something called tinnitus. Tinnitus is most frequently talked about from the perspective of hearing loss, but it turns out that traumatic brain injuries such as concussions can also trigger this particular ringing in the ears.

After all, one of the most prevalent traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And there are a number of reasons concussions can occur (car accidents, sporting 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 suffer a brain injury that causes tinnitus, you can normally treat and manage your condition.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is brain trauma of a very particular type. Think about it like this: your brain is situated fairly tightly into your skull (your brain is large, and your skull is there to protect it). The brain will start moving around inside your skull when something shakes your head violently. But because there’s so little additional space in there, your brain could literally smash into the inside of your skull.

This causes damage to your brain! The brain can impact one or more sides of your skull. And when this happens, you get a concussion. When you visualize this, it makes it easy to understand how a concussion is quite literally brain damage. Here are some symptoms of a concussion:

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

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 one concussion, they will normally make a full recovery. But repeated concussions can cause irreversible brain damage.

How do concussions cause tinnitus?

Is it really possible that a concussion could affect your hearing?

The matter of concussions and tinnitus is an interesting one. After all, concussions won’t be the only brain traumas that can cause tinnitus symptoms. That ringing in your ears can be triggered by even minor brain injuries. Here are a few ways that might occur:

  • Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three bones in your ear that help transfer sounds to your brain. A significant impact (the kind that can cause a concussion, for example) can push these bones out of place. This can interrupt your ability to hear and result in tinnitus.
  • Disruption of communication: In some cases, the portion of your brain that manages hearing can become harmed by a concussion. Consequently, the messages sent from the ear to your brain can’t be precisely digested and tinnitus can be the outcome.
  • Nerve damage: A concussion may also cause damage to the nerve that is responsible for transferring the sounds you hear to your brain.
  • 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 caused when the stereocilia in your ears are injured by the tremendously noisy shock wave of an explosion. So it’s not so much that the concussion caused tinnitus, it’s that the tinnitus and concussion have a common underlying cause.
  • Meniere’s Syndrome: The development of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be a consequence of a TBI. When pressure accumulates in the inner ear this condition can occur. Substantial hearing loss and tinnitus can become a problem over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
  • A “labyrinthine” concussion: This kind of concussion happens when the inner ear is injured as a result of your TBI. Tinnitus and hearing loss, due to inflammation, can be the consequence of this damage.

Of course it’s significant to keep in mind that no two brain injuries are precisely alike. Individualized care and instructions, from us, will be given to every patient. Indeed, if you think you have experienced a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you should call us for an assessment right away.

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 short-term. After a concussion, how long can I expect my tinnitus to last? Weeks or months, unfortunately, could be the time frame. Then again, if your tinnitus has lingered for more than a year, it’s likely to be permanent. In these situations, the treatment strategy transitions to controlling your symptoms over the long run.

This can be accomplished by:

  • Masking device: This device is a lot like a hearing aid, but instead of helping you hear things louder, it creates a particular noise in your ear. Your distinct tinnitus symptoms determine what sound the device will generate helping you disregard the tinnitus sounds and be better able to pay attention to voices and other external sounds.
  • Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to disregard the sound by undertaking cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You accept that the noise is present, and then disregard it. It will take some therapy, practice, and time though.
  • Hearing aid: In a similar way to when you have 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, assuring that your tinnitus fades into the background.

In some situations, additional therapies may be necessary to achieve the desired result. Treatment of the root concussion may be necessary in order to make the tinnitus go away. The right course of action will depend on the nature of your concussion and your TBI. In this regard, an accurate diagnosis is key.

Find out what the best plan of treatment might be for you by getting in touch with us.

TBI-caused tinnitus can be controlled

A concussion can be a significant and traumatic event in your life. 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?

Tinnitus may surface immediately or in the days that follow. But you can successfully control tinnitus after a crash and that’s significant to keep in mind. Schedule a consultation with us today.

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.

    Dr. Laura Padham, Audiologist

    Ocean Gate, NJ

    143 W Barnegat Avenue
    Ocean Gate, NJ 08740

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