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 loud explosion nearby and their ears start ringing? Well, guess what: that probably means our hero suffered at least a mild traumatic brain injury!

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

Concussions, after all, are one of the more common traumatic brain injuries that happen. And they can occur for many reasons (car accidents, sports accidents, and falls, for instance). How something like a concussion causes tinnitus can be, well, complex. Luckily, treating and managing your conditions is typically very attainable.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a particular type of traumatic brain injury (TBI). One way to view it is that your brain is protected by fitting snuggly in your skull. When something occurs and shakes the head violently enough, your brain starts 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 causes damage to your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be impacted by your brain. And when this happens, you experience a concussion. When you visualize this, it makes it simple to understand how a concussion is literally brain damage. Symptoms of concussions include the following:

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

Although this list makes the point, it’s in no way complete. Symptoms from a concussion can persist anywhere between several weeks and a few months. When someone gets a single concussion, they will normally make a full recovery. However, repetitive or multiple concussions are a bigger problem (generally speaking, it’s the best idea to avoid these).

How is tinnitus caused by a concussion?

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

It’s an interesting question: what is the connection between concussions and tinnitus? Because it’s more correct to say that traumatic brain injuries (even minor ones) can lead to tinnitus, it’s not just concussions. Even minor brain injuries can result in that ringing in your ears. That might occur in a few ways:

  • Meniere’s Syndrome: The onset of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be a consequence of a TBI. This is a result 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: This kind of concussion happens when the inner ear is injured due to your TBI. Tinnitus and hearing loss, as a result of inflammation, can be the result of this damage.
  • Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is responsible for transmitting sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can harm.
  • Damage to your hearing: Experiencing an explosion at close range is the cause of concussions and TBIs for many members of the armed forces. And explosions are very loud, the noise and the shock wave can damage the stereocilia in your ear, triggering hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some common causes.
  • Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some instances, harm the portions of the brain that manage hearing. As a result, the messages sent from the ear to your brain can’t be correctly processed and tinnitus can result.
  • Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three bones in your ear that help send sounds to your brain. These bones can be knocked out of place by a significant concussive, impactive event. This can interrupt your ability to hear and cause tinnitus.

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

When you suffer from a concussion and tinnitus is the consequence, how can it be managed?

Usually, it will be a temporary situation if tinnitus is the consequence of a concussion. How long does tinnitus last after a concussion? Well, it may last weeks or possibly months. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is permanent if it persists for more than a year. In these situations, the treatment approach changes to controlling your symptoms over the long run.

This can be achieved by:

  • 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. Hearing aids help your tinnitus go into the background by turning the volume up on everything else.
  • Masking device: This device goes in your ear much like a hearing aid, but it creates particular noises instead of amplifying things. Your specific tinnitus symptoms dictate what sound the device will produce helping you disregard the tinnitus sounds and be better able to focus on voices and other outside sounds.
  • Therapy: In some cases, therapy, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be utilized to help patients ignore the noise produced by their tinnitus. You ignore the sound after accepting it. It will take some therapy, practice, and time though.

Obtaining the desired result will, in some situations, call for added therapies. Getting rid of the tinnitus will frequently require treatment to the root concussion. Depending on the nature of your concussion, there may be several possible courses of action. As a result, an accurate diagnosis is extremely important in this regard.

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

You can manage tinnitus caused by a TBI

Your life can be traumatically impacted by a concussion. It’s never a good day when you get a concussion! And if you’ve been in a car accident and your ears are ringing, you may wonder why.

Tinnitus could surface instantly or in the days that follow. However, it’s essential to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be managed effectively. 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.