Head Injuries and Hearing Loss

While helmets protect from concussions, they also protect you from hearing loss due to a blow to the head.

Head Injuries and Hearing Loss

by Dr. Kevin Ivory

People need to think of their hearing as a precious commodity that needs to be protected and nurtured. Many of us know not to stick things in our ears and to stay away from loud noise for a prolonged period of time. We also need to realize that buzzing and humming in our ears is not normal nor is asking people to repeat themselves because their conversation seems muffled. One of the reasons for sudden hearing loss is a blow to the ear or the head. While helmets protect from concussions, they also protect you from hearing loss due to a blow to the head.

At Glendora Hearing Aids & Audiology, we know that hearing is a shared sense and it is part of the many things that make life’s journey fulfilling. We urge you to take ear protection seriously – and that includes wearing a helmet for sports or hobbies that might mean you are at risk for head trauma. If you suspect your hearing might be damaged, make an appointment today for a hearing evaluation.

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a mild form of a traumatic brain injury. It can be caused by being hit in the head or if your head is violently shaken. It can also be the result of a sound blast. Your brain can become bruised and in severe cases there can even be bleeding in the brain.

Common causes of head trauma include motor vehicle accidents, explosions or sports-related injuries. The injury is classified as mild, moderate or severe. Although a mild concussion or head injury is not considered life threatening, it can be life changing because it could result in hearing loss. While hearing loss may improve following a recovery period from the trauma, many times it persists and even progresses. Vertigo and balance issues may also persist because an injury disrupts the fluid in the inner ear.

The incidence of traumatic brain injury seems to be concentrated in the age group of 15 to 35 and it is more common in males. It is thought that the incidence is higher in males because statistically, this is a group that is considered to be high risk takers. It is estimated that for every 100,000 members of the general population, 1.500 are admitted to hospitals each year for the treatment of traumatic brain injuries.

Ear Damage

Head trauma or a concussion can cause ear damage and changes to the auditory pathways to the brain. Some of the changes to the ear can be reversed, but many, especially as a result of a trauma or concussion, cause irreversible damage. The eardrum can rupture, the small bones in the middle ear can become damaged or dislocated, damage to the tissue and membranes in the inner ear can occur in addition to a reduction in the blood supply to the cochlear nerve.

Damage to your ears can cause auditory as well as vestibular symptoms which may include: problems processing what you hear especially if there is background noise, difficulty determining which direction a sound is coming from, vertigo or nausea, tinnitus or ringing in your ears, sensitivity to certain sounds or tones and hearing loss.

Treatment for Hearing Loss Attributed to Head Trauma

If a loved one is suffering from hearing difficulties after a traumatic brain injury or a concussion, there are some things you can do to make their life a little easier. Reduce the background noise when you are trying to communicate and remember to remove distractions, too. Turning down the television is great, but the flickering lights and changing scenes can also be distracting to someone trying to concentrate.

Face the person you are talking to – that way they can use what you are saying coupled with physical cues to help them understand.

Glendora Hearing Aids and Audiology

At Glendora Hearing Aids & Audiology, we’re here to help. For younger people, sports are one of the causes of a concussion or traumatic brain injury. Before your sports season starts, it is a good idea to have a hearing evaluation done at Glendora Hearing Aids and Audiology. We can establish a baseline for your hearing. Then, after the season is over – or sooner if you believe your hearing is compromised – you can get a recheck for us to check for any hearing deterioration.

Written by
Reviewed by
Dr. Kevin H. Ivory
Audiologist & University Instructor
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Dr. Kevin Ivory, Au.D., CCC-A received his Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He then went on to earn his Doctor of Audiology degree from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, one of the top 10 audiology residential programs in the country.

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