Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for a friendly game of football at Anza Park to cause an injury. This includes a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI). A TBI is a serious injury that can result in damage to the auditory system. We review this connection below.
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
A traumatic brain injury is defined as a head trauma that impairs your normal brain function. You can get a traumatic brain injury even if you don’t experience a direct blow to the head; if the head is forced rapidly back and forth – like if you’re in a car accident – the brain can bounce or twist within the skull, resulting in chemical changes and cell damage.
Auditory Problems After TBI
Following a TBI, you can experience 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 can also experience vestibular symptoms such as:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
- Motion sickness
Over half of TBI patients go on to develop tinnitus. Tinnitus often sounds like a ringing in the ears, but could also present as a roaring, hissing, whistling, buzzing or humming. While the sounds are subjective – meaning they are not caused by an external stimulus – the condition can be emotionally debilitating.
TBI-Related Hearing Loss
Studies show a strong link between TBI and hearing loss. One 2018 review found that 58% of TBI patients experienced some related hearing loss, though for many it was temporary. In a 2017 study of 1.6 million people in Taiwan, researchers found that TBIs more than doubled the chance of developing hearing loss within the next decade.
There are many reasons this can happen:
- The eardrum can tear, and blood can accumulate in the middle ear.
- The ossicular bones can be damaged or dislodged, meaning sound cannot travel properly. They can also fuse and become stiff, which is known as otosclerosis.
- Brain injuries can trigger abnormal bone growth, which is called heterotopic ossification.
- Meniere’s disease, caused by abnormal fluid in the ear, can develop after a TBI.
- Airbag blasts can damage the hair cells within the inner ear that convert soundwaves into electrical energy.
- Bone fractures can sever the auditory nerve.
- TBIs can result in damage to the auditory regions in the brain.
Getting Help for TBI-Related Hearing Loss
If you’re experiencing hearing loss after being diagnosed with a TBI, it’s important to see an expert audiologist right away who can develop a treatment plan based on your unique needs.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Arizona Hearing Specialists today.