Concussions & Tinnitus: What’s the Link?

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

You know that scene in your favorite action movie where something blows up next to the hero and the sound goes all high-pitched-buzzing? Well, guess what: that most likely means our hero sustained at least a minor traumatic brain injury!

To be certain, brain injuries aren’t the part that most action movies linger on. But that high-pitched ringing is something known as tinnitus. Normally, hearing loss is the subject of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also trigger this condition.

After all, one of the most prevalent traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And there are lots of reasons concussions can happen (for instance, falls, sporting 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 sustain a brain injury that triggers tinnitus, you can usually treat and manage your condition.

Concussions, exactly what are they?

A concussion is a specific kind of traumatic brain injury (TBI). One way to think about it is that your brain is protected by fitting tightly in your skull. The brain will begin moving around inside your skull when something shakes your head violently. But because there’s so little additional space in there, your brain may literally crash into the inside of your skull.

This hurts your brain! Multiple sides of your skull can be hit by your brain. And when this occurs, you experience a concussion. This illustration makes it quite evident that a concussion is literally damage to the brain. Symptoms of concussions include the following:

  • A slow or delayed response to questions
  • Confusion and loss of memory
  • Slurred speech
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Dizziness and blurred vision
  • Headaches

Although this list makes the point, it’s by no means exhaustive. A few weeks to several months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. When somebody gets one concussion, they will typically make a full recovery. But, repeated or multiple concussions are a bigger problem (generally, it’s a good idea to avoid these).

How do concussions cause tinnitus?

Can a concussion mess with your hearing? Really?

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 minor ones) can result in tinnitus, It isn’t just concussions. That ringing in your ears can be triggered by even mild brain injuries. Here are a couple of ways that might occur:

  • A “labyrinthine” concussion: When your TBI injures the inner ear this form of concussion occurs. Tinnitus and hearing loss, as a result of inflammation, can be the result of this damage.
  • Meniere’s Syndrome: A TBI can cause the development of a condition called Meniere’s Syndrome. This is a consequence of an accumulation of pressure within the inner ear. Eventually, Meniere’s syndrome can result in significant tinnitus and hearing loss.
  • Disruption of communication: Concussion can, in some instances, damage the parts of the brain that manage hearing. Consequently, the messages sent from the ear to your brain can’t be precisely digested and tinnitus can be the outcome.
  • Damage to your hearing: For members of the armed forces, TBIs and concussions are frequently a result of distance to an explosion. 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 inevitably caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some common causes.
  • Nerve damage: A concussion might also trigger injury to the nerve that is in charge of transferring the sounds you hear to your brain.
  • Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three tiny bones in your ear that help transmit sounds to your brain. These bones can be pushed out of place by a significant concussive, impactive event. This can interrupt your ability to hear and cause tinnitus.

It’s important to stress that every traumatic brain injury and concussion is a little different. Personalized care and instructions, from us, will be provided to every patient. You should definitely call us for an assessment if you think you may have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

When you get a concussion and tinnitus is the result, how can it be treated?

Most often, tinnitus caused by a concussion or traumatic brain damage will be temporary. After a concussion, how long can I expect my tinnitus to linger? Weeks or months, sadly, could be the time frame. However, if your tinnitus has lingered for more than a year, it’s likely to be long lasting. Over time, in these circumstances, treatment plans to manage your condition will be the best strategy.

Here are some ways to achieve this:

  • 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 ignore the sound after acknowledging it. It will take some therapy, practice, and time though.
  • Hearing aid: In a similar way to when you have hearing loss not caused 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.
  • Masking device: This device goes in your ear a lot like a hearing aid, but it creates particular noises instead of amplifying things. Your particular 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 external sounds.

Achieving the desired result will, in some situations, call for added therapies. Getting rid of the tinnitus will frequently require treatment to the underlying concussion. 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.

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 you have ringing in your ears, you may ask yourself, why do I have ringing in my ears after a car accident?

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

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.