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Hearing Loss After Head Injury

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Overcoming Tinnitus After Head Injury

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Tinnitus after head injury can occur due to direct impact from the trauma, affecting the way the brain processes sounds, or other underlying conditions. Nonetheless, persistent ringing in the ears can be uncomfortable and disruptive.

Fortunately, there are various ways tinnitus after head injury can be managed. First, its essential to consult with an audiologist in order to receive proper diagnosis and treatment. They may recommend masking or other types of sound therapy, depending on the severity.

We hope this article helped you understand how tinnitus after head injury can occur and how you can overcome it.

Hearing Loss Due To Brain Damage

If the part of the brain that controls hearing is damaged, it can cause problems with the brains ability to process sounds and connect them to words or meanings. This means the ear may work properly, but its difficult to understand sounds. This may be permanent.

Depending on the diagnosis, an ENT physician or audiologist may recommend using hearing aids, learning adaptive methods of communication and working with rehabilitation specialists.

Treatment For Hearing Loss

Fortunately, there are a variety of treatments for hearing loss available to head injury patients, such as:

  • Rehabilitation: For those with neurological hearing problems, some training programs such as auditory discrimination training and interhemispheric transfer training can activate your brains neuroplasticity and teach you how to process sounds again.
  • Surgical procedures: to remove bone growth and repair your eardrum.
  • Hearing aids: to boost your hearing. For people with profound hearing loss, high power hearing aids or bone-anchored hearing devices can be especially helpful.
  • Cochlear implants: that bypass damaged parts of your inner ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve. These are great for those who have seen only small improvements from a hearing aid.

Talk to your audiologist for more information on treatments for hearing loss. They often suggest non-invasive treatments such as rehabilitation or hearing aids before exploring surgical options.

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Diagnosis Of Hearing Problems

Accurate diagnosis and treatment are essential. The first step is to see a doctor for a referral to an audiologist or an ear, nose and throat specialist if needed. Some audiologists run specialist clinics to help manage particular conditions with specialist hearing aids or therapeutic noise generators.

Brain Injury Or Head Trauma

Head Injuries &  Hearing Loss

A serious brain injury or head trauma can damage bones in the middle ear or nerves in the inner ear. This can happen after a fall or blow to the head. Other symptoms of a head injury include headaches, dizziness, and loss of consciousness.

Muffled hearing doesnt always occur by itself. It can appear with other symptoms, too. Its important to describe all symptoms to a doctor to help identify the underlying cause.

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Symptoms Of An Ear Injury

Following an injury involving a foreign object in the ear, the very first symptom you will want to look out for is a loss of hearing. These injuries can result in sudden hearing loss in one ear and could be an indication that the eardrum has been perforated.

The eardrum is a thin membrane that is able to oscillate as a result of sound waves entering the ear. If a hole is created through the membrane, it is unable to conduct sound. This can result in sudden hearing loss.

Another symptom to be aware of is excessive pain and bleeding. An injury to the outer structure of the ear or ear canal may require medical assistance to properly close and ensure it wont get infected.

Some Facts About Concussions

-A concussion is a mild form of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. A concussion can also be caused by violent movement or jarring of the head or neck, or as a result of a sound blast, in which the pressure of the noise is so loud that it causes brain damage.

-The primary injury in a mild concussion is a contusion of the brain. But in moderate to severe cases, hemorrhaging of the brain can also occur.

-The most common causes of concussions are sports injuries, bicycle and car accidents, and falls.

-People who have already sustained one concussion tend to be more susceptible to having another.

-Although a concussion is not a life-threatening injury and people generally recover quickly, it can cause serious symptoms, including hearing loss.

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A Look At Tbi And Considerations For Hearing Care Professionals

Research suggests about 1.5 per 1,000 people are admitted to the hospital each year for traumatic brain injury , and hearing healthcare professionals are likely to have some of them as patients. TBI may result in hearing loss and vestibular and central auditory problems. This article offers a brief literature review on the subject with suggestions for hearing care professionals.

The statistics are impressive. Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability in the United States, with estimates suggesting that there are more than 1 million cases of head injury requiring hospitalization per year. In terms of all head injuriesregardless of all hospitalizations or severity of injurythe number may be as high as 3 million per year. Common causes of TBI include motor vehicle accidents, assaults, gunshot wounds, and blasts.

TBI displays an extremely varied spectrum of possible lesions and resulting potential disabilities . The majority of TBI patients are likely to suffer some transient cognitive, motor, or sensory aberration, with many displaying residual physical, intellectual, or behavioral deficits. These deficits may be permanent, and some patients will never return to their previous level of independence and productivity. The cost of rehabilitation of traumatically brain injured patients is estimated to reach $25-30 billion annually.

How Hearing Can Be Damaged

Invisible hearing loss with tinnitus

The mechanical process of hearing is carried out by the ear itself, which has three sections, the outer, middle, and inner ears.

The outer ear, consisting of the lobe and ear canal, protects the more fragile parts inside.

The middle ear begins with the eardrum sound makes this thin membrane vibrate. The vibration is transferred via three small bones to the inner ear.

The inner ear has a tube called the cochlea, which is wound tightly like a snail shell. From here the neurological process begins the vibration is turned into electrical impulses and sent to various parts of the brain for processing.

The trauma involved in a traumatic brain injury most commonly affects the mechanical process. An ear drum may rupture, any of the small bones could break or there could be bleeding or bruising of the middle ear.

Sometimes damage to the parietal or temporal lobes can disrupt the neurological process. Thankfully, many hearing difficulties are not permanent and can be reduced or eliminated with treatment.

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How To Treat Tinnitus After Tbi

Tinnitus after head injury can be difficult to treat, and most cases are addressed by exploring the root cause. For example, with tinnitus caused by ossicular chain disruption, surgery may be needed. However, this is a highly invasive procedure therefore an accurate diagnosis and consultation with an auditory specialist is required.

When tinnitus is caused by changes in the way the brain processes sound, it can be more challenging to treat. Fortunately, there are many ways to manage the symptoms and reduce tinnitus.

One popular technique to help manage tinnitus is known as masking which involves wearing a small device that resembles a hearing aid. This device produces customized sounds that drown out the constant fuzz or the ringing noise from tinnitus.

Masking may help engage neuroplasticity and retrain the brain to tune out repetitive or unfamiliar sounds. While this technique can be efficient some survivors may require the use of a mask for long periods of time.

You can also use standard masking sounds such as music, nature sounds, white noise from a fan, or headphones to help manage tinnitus. While there is no one-size-fits-all cure, there are various sound therapy techniques you can try.

What Are The Primary Causes Of Head Injuries

In 2013, falls were the leading cause of traumatic brain injury in the U.S., accounting for over half of TBI E.R. visits. Falls disproportionately affect the old and very young. Motor vehicle accidents and sports injuries are also major causes of head trauma, both serious and minor.

The risk of traumatic brain injury in males is highest between 15-35 years old, a likely cause being their greater tendency to engage in risk-taking behavior and contact sports. As more is discovered about the lasting consequences of sports-induced concussions, health experts are stressing the need for more care to be taken with those who have sustained these injuries.

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Hearing Loss And Concussions

Due to the head trauma, a concussion can cause ear damage and changes to the auditory pathway up to the brain.

Many changes can occur to the ear, causing reversible or sometimes even irreversible damage. The eardrum can rupture, the small ossicle bones of the middle ear can become damaged or dislocated, damage to the tissues and membranes of the inner ear can occur, as well as ischemia of the cochlear nerve.

The central auditory pathways of the brain can also be disrupted during head trauma.

These anatomical disturbances can results in many auditory and vestibular symptoms, including:

  • Difficulty processing auditory information, especially in the presence of background noise
  • Difficulty locating where sounds are coming from
  • Conductive or sensorineural hearing loss

Symptoms Of A Blast Injury

How Traumatic Brain Injury Can Cause Hearing Loss

After a blast injury, a patient typically feels as if the injured ear is clogged. Thus, their ability to hear through the affected ear is also reduced. In addition to these symptoms, other a blast injury patient may experience tinnitus , hyperacusis , vertigo, and/or balance disturbances. Blast injury usually occurs in only one ear, and in most cases, the symptoms will go away on their own in just a few days.Generally, the symptoms of a blast injury do not progress further, worsening with time. In fact, the opposite is true: time is the best medicine for those who have gone through a traumatic situation with their hearing.

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Diagnosing A Blast Injury

To diagnose a blast injury, an ENT doctor will perform a hearing test. A sensorineural hearing loss can be detected by using the results of your test, which is called an audiogram. The data will show either a dip at 4,000 Hz or a drop in the curve with high frequency tones. The SISI test is positive, indicating what hearing care specialists call positive recruitment. This means that the interval between the auditory threshold and the threshold of hearing discomfort is smaller than with normal hearing. The faster increase in loudness can be explained by the damage to the outer hair cells. When healthy, the outer hair cells modify the sound. They amplify quiet sounds and soften loud sounds so that it is possible to perceive a wider range of frequencies. This modification disappears in patients with damaged hair cells due to a blast injury.

Otoacoustic emissions cannot be measured in the damaged frequency range. These emissions are based on the function of the outer hair cells, and likewise disappear in patients with damaged hair cells in the corresponding frequency range. Due to the tests associated exposure to noise, it is not performed until at least 1 week after the traumatic incident.

Ear Injuries And Trauma

Trauma to the ear and temporal bone can result in different types of injury. Here are a few:

Auricular hematoma

An auricular hematoma occurs when a pocket of blood collects under the skin of the outer ear. This causes the outer ear to look swollen. The pocket of blood will feel soft, like a water balloon. If diagnosed early, treatment typically involves opening the pocket and draining the blood. A bolster dressing is often placed to prevent the blood from re-accumulating.

Tympanic membrane perforation

The ear drum can rupture when foreign objects pierce it through the ear canal, with rapid pressure changes to the ear, or with blunt force trauma to the temporal bone. Many traumatic ear drum ruptures heal on their own without the need for surgery. Others can predispose to infection and require treatment with antibiotic ear drops or pills. Some perforations do not heal on their own or can cause cholesteatoma to form. In these cases, an ear specialist may recommend surgery.

Temporal bone fracture

Facial paralysis can occur when the facial nerve is cut or swollen due to head injury. If the facial paralysis occurs immediately with the temporal bone fracture, sometimes surgery may be helpful to repair a cut nerve. This decision is often based on the specific anatomy seen on the patient’s CT scan. If the facial paralysis occurs on a delayed basis then often the nerve is swollen and not fully cut, and conservative management without surgery is recommended.

Ossicular dislocation

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Effects Of Head Trauma On Hearing Loss

  • Traumatic brain injury can result in a variety of problems related to the ear, including hearing loss, dizziness, vertigo, and tinnitus.
  • The head trauma can cause damage at any point between the outer ear and the auditory cortex in the brain.
  • Auditory problems could be wrong for other conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, mental disruptions or mental health issues.

Symptoms Of Hearing Loss Caused Due To Head Trauma

Detecting Post-blast Hearing Loss and Brain Injury
  • Dizziness and vertigo are also very common symptoms associated with damage to the ears from traumatic brain injury.
  • Difficulty in understanding speech, especially when there is background noise.
  • Difficulty in locating sounds .
  • Tinnitus .
  • Hyperacusis .
  • Neurological changes such as weakness, loss of balance or change in vision
  • Feeling dazed, confused

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The Link Between Concussions And Hearing Loss

Contact sports, car crashes and falls are the leading causes of concussions in Thousand Oaks, California. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a sudden acceleration or deceleration to the head. Headaches, dizziness, temporary loss of consciousness, confusion, fatigue and vomiting are common symptoms of this brain injury.

While hearing loss is also a common side effect of brain injuries, it is often left off the list of symptoms. The force required to cause a concussion can also cause damage to the tiny bones in the middle ear or fracture bones in the inner ear and cochlea. It can also cause an injury to specific parts of the brain that are responsible for processing sound.

After a concussion, immediate medical attention is required. The following tests are typically performed:

  • Neurological evaluations, which are used to measure your sensory and motor responses. This includes your vision, hearing, balance and coordination.
  • Cognitive tests, which are used to evaluate your ability to think.
  • Imaging tests, such as cranial computerized tomography or a magnetic resonance imaging , which are used to confirm if the concussion caused any physical injuries or bleeding inside the skull.

An observation is also ordered for at least 24 hours after the event. This may be performed in a hospital setting or in your own home. The observation is important to make sure your symptoms do not get any worse.

Effects On The Hearing Of Traumatic Brain Injuries Concussion

Painful brain injury can lead to many problems related to the ear, including hearing loss, dizziness, dizziness, and tinnitus.

Due to the sudden and violent nature of the injury, head trauma can harm the hearing path. Damage may occur at any point between the external ear and the hearing cortex in the brain.

Therefore, there is not a specific type of hearing impairment that occurs with TBI, but there are various types of complex symptoms that can be challenging to cope with the injured person.

Even an injury can result in loss of light in the ear as an injury or changes in the hearing path to the brain. Although some of these changes are reversible, others are not unfortunate. These changes may include a broken eardrum, damage to small bones of the middle ear, damage to internal ear tissues and membranes and disruption of blood flow to the cochlear nerve. Internal hair cells are particularly vulnerable to damage.

These changes may include a broken eardrum, damage to small bones of the middle ear, damage to internal ear tissues and membranes and disruption of blood flow to the cochlear nerve. Internal hair cells are particularly vulnerable to damage.

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Consequences Of Traumatic Brain Injury

Causes of Tinnitus

Neurological Impairment

  • Motor function impairments: coordination, balance, walking, speech
  • Sensory loss: taste, touch, hearing, vision, smell
  • Sleep disturbances: insomnia, fatigue

Loss of autonomy and independence

Table 1. Consequences of traumatic brain injury .


Recent estimates suggest that there are about 1,500 people admitted to the hospital per 100,000 population per year for TBI. This figure probably underestimates the true incidence of TBI because of classification and diagnostic errors, as well as under-reporting of mild injury.

The incidence of TBI peaks in the age group 15-35 years, and is more common in males. Much of this gender difference is thought to be related to risk-taking behavior and is therefore potentially preventable. Among the elderly, the primary contributing factor for traumatic brain injury among adults ages 65+ is falls.

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