Head Injuries & Hearing Loss

Head Injuries & Hearing Loss

It’s well known that loud noise and old age can contribute to hearing loss. We do what we can to protect ourselves from noise, including turning down the volume of our headphones and wearing hearing protection when using noisy equipment. Even so there are other hazards to look out for when protecting your hearing. The force of impact to the head can damage or displace the ossicles — delicate bones of the inner ear, injure the eardrum, and even disrupt parts of the brain designated for auditory processing. 

What are the risks of a TBI?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) concussion, or head injury occurs when a heavy blow is sustained to the head. After an impact you may experience:

Tinnitus: a persistent ringing, buzzing, or hissing sound may occur in one or both ears. Hyperacusis: increased sensitivity to sound 

Vertigo: a felling of uncontrollable dizziness may make it hard to stand or walk This may be due to inner ear injuries effecting the vestibular system. The vestibular system is made up of tiny fluid-filled canals that inform your brain about the level and position of your head. When impact occurs, it may dislodge parts of the vestibular system leading to issues with spatial disorientation, dizziness, judging distances, and a feeling like you are at sea even on dry land.

How Common Are They and When Should I Be Most Careful?

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 1.6 to 3.8 million traumatic brain injuries occur each year. These are solely attributed to sports such as soccer, football, biking, skating and other contact sports and recreational activities. result from contact sports and other recreational activities. Football is a sport with one of the highest risks of TBIs with up to 10% of all college players and 20% of all high school players sustaining TBIs during annually.

Other causes of TBI which are common include car accidents where high speeds can lead to incredibly deadly impacts. While other major causes are attributed to elderly who due to comorbidities such as osteoporosis (weaken bones), cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes may increase the risk of fall. When blood thinners are used the risk of TBIs becomes increased. While it doesn’t directly increase the likeliness of falls when a fall does occur the likeliness of injury is much worse.

Is the Hearing Loss Permanent?

You can do what you can to prevent a TBI. This may include wearing a helmet when playing sports and wearing a seat belt any time you are in a moving vehicle. However, you can never completely predict when an accident will take place causing hearing damage. Even so in many cases hearing loss resulting from a TBI resolve on their own within a few months. It’s common for the brain to heal itself and this includes auditory processing. In many cases when the ossicle bones are fractured microscopic surgery can be used to correct the issue. Most rare from TBIs is damage to the cochlea which houses the ear’s main connection to the brain. When this occurs, sound is cut off from arriving in the auditory cortex leaving behind a permanent degree of hearing loss.

Treating a TBI

Due to the risk of brain bleeding, do not ever delay in addressing a TBI immediately! If you’ve suffered a TBI, then treatment is recommended right away, aside from damage to your hearing, a TBI can cause 

  • Memory loss.
  • Headaches.
  • Seizures.
  • Dizziness.
  • Visual changes.
  • Fatigue.
  • Paralysis.
  • Balance problems.

Addressing Hearing Loss After a TBI

Due to the fact that hearing and balance are so integral to our ability to communicate, it is essential that you identify the difference between hearing loss and cognitive impairment impeding your ability to hear. This must be done by a trained audiologist or Ear Nose and Throat doctor (ENT). If you have been impacted by a traumatic brain injury and notice any changes in your hearing or equilibrium, then we recommend scheduling an appointment with us right away. We can inspect your ears and find the best solution for all your hearing needs. Don’t delay in addressing your hearing after an accident. Your hearing is too precious to ignore!