Effects of Concussions on Hearing

Concussions and Hearing Loss

Concussions have become an increasingly popular medical topic in the last 20 years. Medical specialists have realized that no matter the degree of impact, a concussion can have a wide array of symptoms and negative effects. The most common causes are head trauma, high-impact sports, vehicular crashes, explosions, and falls. A traumatic brain injury can also occur as a result of a sound blast, in which the pressure of the noise is loud enough to cause brain damage.

After any of these events no matter the severity, it is imperative you seek medical attention immediately. A neurological evaluation must be performed to measure your sensory and motor responses, including your vision, hearing, balance and coordination. Your brain is a very delicate organ that is protected by our skull, an accident, fall, or sudden impact may result in a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI). Common symptoms of a concussion include headaches, dizziness, loss of consciousness, confusion, fatigue and vomiting. However, surprisingly hearing loss is another common symptom of concussions.

Concussions and Hearing Loss

Concussions can have negative effects on our hearing. In some cases they can cause damage to our ear and result in changes to the auditory pathway up to the brain. Depending on severity of the trauma and concussion the effects can be reversible or in some cases irreversible. We’ve listed the possible negative effects a concussion can have on your hearing.

  • Ruptured Eardrum
  • Ossicles (Hammer, Anvil, Stirrup) can become damaged or dislocated
  • Inner ear tissue and membrane damage
  • Disruption of the Central Auditory Pathways
  • Cochlear nerve damage

Some of the hearing related symptoms one may experience after a concussion are:

  • Difficulty processing auditory information, especially in the presence of background noise
  • Difficulty locating where sounds are coming from
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Vertigo and/or nausea
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Hyperacusis (increased sensitivity to certain frequencies and volume ranges of sound)
  • Conductive or sensorineural hearing loss.

Individuals with Hearing Loss are at Greater Risk of Falling

Individuals who experience hearing loss and do not wearing hearing aids are at a greater risk of falling. Any fall can be hazardous to one’s health and wellbeing, but it’s not just due to immediate physical damage. There can be significant trauma to the brain as well, even if the fall doesn’t seem too severe or if there are no symptoms right away.

Research from Johns Hopkins University found that even mild hearing loss can increase the risk of falling by three times. Fortunately, the use of hearing aids can reduce the risk. Hearing aids allow the user to gain greater awareness of their surroundings and maintain better balance. Having your hearing checked regularly is a great preventative measure to TBI-inducing falls. If you have a hearing loss and are interested in discussing assistive listening devices, please contact one of our offices to schedule a hearing test or a consultation.