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 begin to ring? Well, at least some level of minor brain trauma has likely happened to them.

To be sure, brain injuries aren’t the bit that most action movies focus on. But that high-pitched ringing is something known as tinnitus. Usually, hearing loss is the subject of a tinnitus conversation, but traumatic brain injuries can also cause this condition.

After all, one of the most prevalent traumatic brain injuries is a concussion. And they can occur for numerous reasons (for example, falls, sports accidents, and motor vehicle accidents). How something like a concussion triggers tinnitus can be, well, complicated. 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). Think about it this way: your brain is nestled fairly tightly inside your skull (your brain is big, and your skull is there to protect it). The brain will start moving around in your skull when something shakes your head violently. But because there’s so little additional space in there, your brain may literally smash into the inside of your skull.

This causes damage to your brain! The brain can hit one or more sides of your skull. And this is what brings about a concussion. When you picture this, it makes it simple to understand how a concussion is literally brain damage. Symptoms of concussions include the following:

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

This list is not exhaustive, but you get the idea. A few weeks to several months is the normal duration of concussion symptoms. When somebody gets one concussion, they will normally make a complete recovery. But recurring concussions can cause irreversible brain damage.

How do concussions cause tinnitus?

Can a concussion mess with your hearing? Really?

It’s an intriguing question: what is the connection between concussions and tinnitus? Not surprisingly, concussions are not the only brain traumas that can cause tinnitus symptoms. Even mild brain injuries can result in that ringing in your ears. That may occur in a few ways:

  • Disruption of the Ossicular Chain: There are three bones in your ear that help transfer sounds to your brain. These bones can be knocked out of place by a significant concussive, impactive event. This can disrupt your ability to hear and cause tinnitus.
  • A “labyrinthine” concussion: When your TBI injures the inner ear this type of concussion occurs. This damage can create inflammation and lead to both hearing loss and tinnitus.
  • Damage to your hearing: Enduring an explosion at close range is the cause of concussions and TBIs for many members of the military. Permanent hearing loss can be caused when the stereocilia in your ears are injured by the incredibly 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 root cause.
  • Meniere’s Syndrome: The onset 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 happen. Sooner or later, Meniere’s syndrome can lead to significant tinnitus and hearing loss.
  • Disruption of communication: In some instances, the part of your brain that controls hearing can become harmed by a concussion. Consequently, the messages sent from the ear to your brain can’t be precisely processed 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.

Of course it’s significant to note that no two brain injuries are exactly the same. Individualized care and instructions, from us, will be given to every patient. Certainly, if you think you have experienced a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, you need to call us for an assessment right away.

How do you deal with tinnitus caused by a concussion?

Typically, 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 last? Well, it might last weeks or possibly months. Then again, if your tinnitus has lasted for more than a year, it’s likely to be irreversible. 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 have hearing loss not triggered by a TBI, tinnitus symptoms seem louder because everything else is quieter. Hearing aids help your tinnitus fade into the background by turning the volume up on everything else.
  • Therapy: Sometimes, patients can learn to disregard the sound by engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You ignore the sound after acknowledging it. This technique requires therapy and practice.
  • Masking device: This device goes in your ear much like a hearing aid, but it creates specific noises instead of amplifying things. This noise is customized to your tinnitus, overpowering the sound so you can pay attention to voices, or other sounds you really want to hear.

In some situations, further therapies might be required to obtain the expected result. Getting rid of the tinnitus will frequently require treatment to the root concussion. Depending on the status of your concussion, there could be a number of possible courses of action. As a result, an accurate diagnosis is incredibly important in this regard.

Learn what the best plan of treatment may be for you by getting in touch with us.

TBI-caused tinnitus can be managed

Your life can be traumatically impacted by a concussion. When you get a concussion, it’s a bad day! And if your ears are ringing, you may ask yourself, why are my ears ringing after a car accident?

Tinnitus could surface instantly or in the following days. But you can successfully control tinnitus after a crash and that’s important to keep in mind. Call us today to make an appointment.

The content of this blog is the intellectual property of and is reprinted here with permission. The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive a hearing aid consultation, call today to schedule an appointment.