Concussions & Tinnitus: What’s the Connection?

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

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

Obviously, action movies don’t highlight the brain injury part. But that ringing in our hero’s ears represents a condition called tinnitus. Normally, hearing loss is the topic of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also trigger this condition.

Concussions, after all, are one of the more common traumatic brain injuries that happen. And there are quite a few reasons concussions can happen (car crashes, sports accidents, and falls, for example). It can be a bit complex sorting out how a concussion can lead to tinnitus. Fortunately, treating and managing your conditions is usually very attainable.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a specific type of traumatic brain injury (TBI). One way to think about it is that your brain is protected by sitting tightly in your skull. The brain will start moving around in your skull when something shakes your head violently. But your brain could wind up crashing into the inside of your skull because of the little amount of additional space in there.

This hurts your brain! The brain can impact one or more sides of your skull. And this is what leads to a concussion. When you picture this, it makes it simple to understand how a concussion is literally brain damage. Here are a few symptoms of a concussion:

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

Although this list makes the point, it’s by no means exhaustive. Several weeks to a few months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. When someone gets a single concussion, they will normally make a full recovery. However, repeated or multiple concussions are a different story (generally, it’s a good idea to avoid these).

How is tinnitus caused by a concussion?

Is it actually possible that a concussion may impact your hearing?

It’s an interesting question: what is the connection between tinnitus and concussions? After all, concussions won’t be the only brain traumas that can cause tinnitus symptoms. Even minor brain injuries can lead to that ringing in your ears. Here are a couple of ways that could occur:

  • A “labyrinthine” concussion: When your TBI injures the inner ear this form of concussion happens. Tinnitus and hearing loss, due to inflammation, can be the consequence of this damage.
  • Interruption of the Ossicular Chain: The relaying of sound to your brain is assisted by three bones in your ear. These bones can be knocked out of place by a significant concussive, impactive event. Tinnitus can be triggered by this and it can also disrupt your ability to hear.
  • Nerve damage: A concussion might also cause damage to the nerve that is responsible for transmitting the sounds you hear to your brain.
  • Meniere’s Syndrome: The development of a condition known as Meniere’s Syndrome can be a consequence of a TBI. This is a consequence of the buildup of pressure within the inner ear. Significant hearing loss and tinnitus can become an issue over time as a result of Menier’s disease.
  • Disruption of communication: In some cases, the part of your brain that controls hearing can become damaged by a concussion. When this happens, the signals that get transmitted from your ear cannot be precisely processed, and tinnitus might occur consequently.
  • Damage to your hearing: Enduring an explosion at close distance is the cause of concussions and TBIs for lots of members of the military. 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 always 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. Every patient will get individualized care and instructions from us. You should certainly call us for an evaluation if you believe you might have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

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

Most frequently, tinnitus triggered by a concussion or traumatic brain damage will be short-term. How long does tinnitus linger after a concussion? Well, it could last weeks or possibly months. But, it’s likely that your tinnitus is permanent if it lasts more than a year. Over time, in these situations, treatment plans to manage your condition will be the best strategy.

Here are some ways to accomplish this:

  • Hearing aid: In a similar way to when you’re dealing with hearing loss not caused by a TBI, tinnitus symptoms seem louder because everything else is quieter. A hearing aid can help raise the volume of everything else, ensuring that your tinnitus fades into the background.
  • Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to ignore the sound by undertaking cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You acknowledge that the noise is present, and then disregard it. This technique requires therapy and practice.
  • Masking device: This device goes inside your ear a lot like a hearing aid, but it produces 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 pay attention to voices and other external sounds.

In some cases, additional therapies may be necessary to achieve the expected result. Management of the underlying concussion may be necessary in order to get rid of the tinnitus. The correct course of action will depend on the nature of your concussion and your TBI. This means a precise diagnosis is incredibly important in this regard.

Consult us about what the ideal 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 you have ringing in your ears, you might ask yourself, why do I have ringing in my ears after a car accident?

Tinnitus may emerge instantly or in the following days. But you can effectively 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.

Questions? Talk To Us.