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 likely means our hero suffered at least a mild traumatic brain injury!

Obviously, action movies don’t highlight the brain injury part. But that ringing in our hero’s ears signifies a condition called tinnitus. Tinnitus is most often discussed from the perspective of hearing loss, but actually, traumatic brain injuries such as concussions can also lead to this particular ringing in the ears.

After all, one of the most prevalent traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And there are quite a few reasons concussions can occur (car accidents, sporting accidents, and falls, for instance). How something such as a concussion causes tinnitus can be, well, complex. Luckily, treating and managing your conditions is typically very achievable.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a particular form of traumatic brain injury (TBI). One way to view it is that your brain is protected by sitting tightly in your skull. When something comes along and shakes the head violently enough, your brain starts moving around inside of your skull. 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! The brain can impact one or more sides of your skull. And when this occurs, you experience a concussion. When you visualize this, it makes it easy to see how a concussion is literally brain damage. Symptoms of concussions include the following:

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

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

How do concussions cause tinnitus?

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

The question of concussions and tinnitus is an intriguing one. Because it’s more correct to say that traumatic brain injuries (even mild ones) can lead to tinnitus, It isn’t just concussions. Even minor brain injuries can lead to that ringing in your ears. That may occur in a few ways:

  • A “labyrinthine” concussion: When your TBI injures the inner ear this form of concussion occurs. Tinnitus and hearing loss, due to inflammation, can be the consequence of this damage.
  • Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: The transmission of sound to your brain is aided by three tiny bones in your ear. A substantial impact (the type that can trigger a concussion, for instance) can jostle these bones out of position. This can interrupt your ability to hear and result in tinnitus.
  • 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. Eventually, Meniere’s syndrome can lead to noticeable tinnitus and hearing loss.
  • Disruption of communication: In some cases, the part of your brain that manages hearing can become damaged by a concussion. When this occurs, the messages that get sent from your ear cannot be properly processed, and tinnitus might happen consequently.
  • Nerve damage: There’s also a nerve that is in charge of sending sounds you hear to your brain, which a concussion can damage.
  • Damage to your hearing: For members of the military, TBIs and concussions are frequently a result of proximity to an explosion. And explosions are really loud, the noise and the shock wave can damage the stereocilia in your ear, triggering hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t necessarily caused by a concussion, but they definitely do share some root causes.

It’s significant 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. Certainly, if you think you have experienced a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you need to call us for an evaluation right away.

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

Usually, it will be a temporary situation if tinnitus is the result of a concussion. After a concussion, how long can I expect my tinnitus to linger? Weeks or months, sadly, could be the time period. Then again, if your tinnitus has lingered for more than a year, it’s likely to be irreversible. In these cases, the treatment strategy changes to managing your symptoms over the long term.

Here are some ways to accomplish this:

  • Therapy: In some situations, therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be used to help patients ignore the noise produced by their tinnitus. You ignore the sound after accepting it. It will require some therapy, practice, and time though.
  • Masking device: This device goes in your ear a lot like a hearing aid, but it produces specific noises instead of amplifying things. This noise is custom tailored to your tinnitus, drowning out 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 takes a back seat (as is the situation with non-TBI-caused hearing loss, everything else becomes quieter, so your tinnitus sounds louder). 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 situations, require added therapies. Management of the underlying concussion may be required in order to get rid of the tinnitus. The best course of action will depend on the status of your concussion and your TBI. As a result, an accurate diagnosis is incredibly important in this regard.

Talk to us about what the right treatment plan might look like for you.

You can control tinnitus caused by a TBI

A concussion can be a substantial and traumatic situation in your life. It’s never a good day when you get a concussion! And if your ears are ringing, you might ask yourself, why do I have ringing in my ears after a car crash?

It could be days later or immediately after the accident that tinnitus symptoms emerge. However, it’s essential to remember that tinnitus after a head injury can be managed effectively. 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.