Traumatic Brain Injury – Tinnitus

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Tinnitus is hearing sounds when there are no external sounds present, and this can be caused by traumatic brain injury.

Types of phantom sounds that can be heard include:

  • Ringing
  • Buzzing
  • Roaring
  • Clicking
  • Hissing

The phantom noise can be heard in one ear or both ears and can vary from low sound to a high squeal. It may come and go or be present all the time.

The Archives of Otolaryngology indicate that within a study group with tinnitus sounds induced by traumatic brain injuries were significantly louder than sounds induced from other causes. Traumatic brain injury occurs when a sudden trauma or head injury disrupts the function of the brain. One clinical study has shown that after a minor traumatic brain injury, many patients suffer from dizziness, and more than half complain of tinnitus and hearing loss. This seems to be common in veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who sustained traumatic brain injuries from the detonation of explosive devises.

Traumatic brain injuries can affect the inner ear, hearing nerves or brain function linked to hearing. Such injuries can cause tinnitus. Other causes of tinnitus can be:

  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Ear wax blockage
  • Ear bone changes
  • Normal inner ear fluid pressure (Meniere's disease)
  • Blood vessel disorders
  • Certain medications

Tinnitus induced by traumatic brain injury can cause an increase in symptoms normally caused by traumatic injury including:

  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Sleep problems
  • Memory problems
  • Depression
  • Anxiety and irritability

People experiencing tinnitus should contact their physician and see an otolaryngologist.

Depending on the cause of the tinnitus, there are treatments that a physician can recommend to help its symptoms. One such treatment is noise suppression by using an electronic device to suppress the noise including:

  • White noise machines
  • Hearing aids
  • Masking devices
  • Tinnitus retraining