Traumatic Brain Injury And Hearing Loss: What You Should Know


Now that football season is over, many of us are thinking about traumatic brain injuries — also known as TBIs, head injuries, or concussions. These serious conditions can affect other critical aspects of your health, including hearing and balance, so we’re sharing some important tips to know.

About 1.6 million to 3.8 million traumatic brain injuries tied to sports and recreation happen each year in the U.S., per the most recently available Centers for Disease Control and Prevention annualized estimate. TBIs aren’t limited to football players; the injuries also affect people playing other contact sports or just hitting their heads in other ways, such as in falls or car accidents.

The force of TBIs can damage the smallest bones in the body, which are located in the middle ear. TBIs can also damage areas of the brain that process sound, as well as the vestibular organs located in the ears. Several people who experience TBIs also report hearing a persistent ringing or buzzing sound, which is called tinnitus, and they sometimes report hyperacusis or hypersensitivity to sound.

Many TBIs resolve on their own over time, but some may require surgery if bones have been damaged or if there is another serious physical injury. With connections also between traumatic brain injury and hearing loss, it’s additionally important to keep the following steps in mind:

  • Always see a doctor immediately if you have sustained a head injury. The doctor will likely order CT scans and MRIs to detect any brain bleeding or other internal damage. The scans can also give more information about physical damage to the ear.

  • See an audiologist for a hearing evaluation, especially if you have any symptoms such as tinnitus, hyperacusis or hearing loss. Hearing loss related to TBI often improves over time but can be permanent if there is cochlear damage. It’s important to evaluate and monitor any hearing loss over time to determine the stability of the loss.

  • See an audiologist if you’re experiencing any balance or dizziness problems associated with the TBI. When appropriate, the audiologist can perform vestibular testing to help determine the cause of the problems and explore possible treatment options.

  • Wear a helmet when playing contact sports and other recreational activities. In addition, make sure to have good outdoor lighting at your home and sturdy handrails for wet or icy conditions. Sturdy handrails are also important inside the home, especially in stairwells and bathrooms, as those are the most common places for household falls.

If you suspect hearing loss or want to learn more about connections between TBIs and hearing health, don’t wait. Contact the experts at Chesapeake Hearing Centers by calling 410-695-6246.


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