Whether it’s from a car accident or playing a competitive game of football at Ann Morrison Park, if you experience a traumatic brain injury (TBI), you can suffer from auditory and vestibular symptoms. We explore this connection below.
What Is a TBI?
A TBI is defined as a trauma to the head that impairs your cognitive function. Whether the cause is a blow to the head or your head being whipped back and forth, if the brain bounces or twists within the skull, it can result in cell damage and chemical changes.
What Auditory Problems Can Result from a TBI?
If you experience a TBI, you may suffer from auditory symptoms such as:
- Hearing loss
- Sensitivity to loud noises
- Decreased tolerance to specific sounds
- Fullness in the ears
- Auditory processing problems
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
You may also experience vestibular symptoms such as:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).
- Motion sickness.
Tinnitus Caused by TBI
It is estimated that more than half of TBI patients later develop tinnitus. While tinnitus is often thought of as a ringing in the ears, it can also sound like a roaring, whistling, hissing, buzzing or humming. Everyone experiences tinnitus differently; for some it is a mild nuisance, and for others it is a debilitating experience.
There is no cure for tinnitus, but there are management options available, including:
- White noise machines
- Masking devices
- Hearing aids
- Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT)
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Hearing Loss Caused by TBI
There is a lot of research linking TBIs with hearing loss. One review found that 58% of TBI patients had some related hearing loss, and another study found that TBIs more than doubled the chance of developing hearing loss within a decade.
The treatment for TBI-induced hearing loss depends on what part of the ear is affected. For example:
- A ruptured eardrum can recover on its own within about a month.
- Damaged ossicular bones can be repaired or replaced surgically.
- Meniere’s disease, caused by abnormal amounts of fluid in the ear, can be managed with medications.
- Sensorineural hearing loss, or hearing loss caused by damaged cells within the inner ear, is treated with hearing aids in most cases.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a hearing or tinnitus expert, call SW Idaho ENT today.