If you experienced a traumatic brain injury (also referred to as TBI, a concussion, or head injury), this can harm or even displace fragile bones located in the inner ear, rupture your eardrum, and even disrupt areas of the brain that help with auditory processing. Tinnitus could appear in one ear or both.
Some patients with TBI have complained about hyperacusis, or the experience of extreme sensitivity to sound. Also, any harm to the inner ear can negatively impact the vestibular system, which is composed of small fluid-filled canals that transfer signals about the position of your head to your brain. Extracting parts of the vestibular system causes spatial disorientation, dizziness, vertigo, and estimating distances.
The Prevalence of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
According to the CDC, the 1.6 million TBI that occur annually is the result of contact sports, car crashes, and recreational activities. Out of those injuries, nearly 50% involve hearing loss or sudden-onset tinnitus. TBIs are common among football players. Nearly 10% of college players and 20% of high school players have a TBI. Among the elderly, falls are the primary cause of TBIs. These can be severe if they also take medication for blood-thinning.
Permanent or Temporary?
The overwhelming cases of hearing loss that is caused by TBI, go away naturally after a few months. While the brain heals, the auditory processing should resume. If there is a fractured or displaced bone, surgery can help. There are rare instances when permanent hearing loss occurs as a result of a damaged cochlea.
To prevent TBI, wear a helmet that will protect your head, along with any other protective headgear, while playing a sport that could lead to head trauma. If you drive a vehicle or are a passenger in one, always wear your seatbelt. In the wintertime, carefully step around icy areas and hold onto any available railings to reduce the chances of falling. Be careful when stepping into or out of a shower. It’s easy to slip and fall on a wet bathroom tile.
You should see a doctor immediately if you suffer from a traumatic brain injury. There are risks of hematoma (bleeding in the brain), and imaging tests need to be conducted. If there is a physical injury to the ear, you may need a CT or MRI scan.
If you are noticing hearing loss, hearing aids may be a solution. Contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.