Head Injuries & Hearing Loss

Head Injuries & Hearing Loss

Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA Brain Health, Cognitive Health, Hearing Health, Hearing Loss

Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA
Latest posts by Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA (see all)

As recent evidence indicates that engaging in contact sports may have permanent effects on memory, there has been a lot of coverage on traumatic brain injury (TBI) lately. Let’s learn more about this condition and how it could lead to hearing loss.

What is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?

Any damage caused by physical force to the brain is known as TBI. This is often blunt trauma due to a physical object. Sports injuries, auto crashes, and gunshots are common causes of TBI. 

TBI may have wide-ranging implications for those who suffer from it because the brain is the seat of our personality, sensory perception, and regulates so many different body functions. A mild concussion may or may not have lasting consequences, but severe neurological problems and even death may result from repeated minor traumas.

What are the leading causes of head injuries?

In males, the risk of traumatic brain injury is highest between 15-35 years of age, with their greater propensity to engage in risk-taking activities being a possible cause.

Falls were the largest cause of traumatic brain injury in the United States in 2013, accounting for more than half of ER visits that resulted in a TBI diagnosis. The elderly and very young are affected by falls disproportionately. Motor vehicle collisions are also a significant cause of TBI.

Contact sports, particularly football, have recently been taking a lot of heat over the number of players sustaining head injuries. Many advocate for players and coaches to show more caution as we learn more about concussions and other head injuries and are mindful of some of these traumatic brain injuries’ long-term effects. The health risks of more injuries are dire, especially for players who have had a head injury in the past, and permanent brain damage may even lead to death.

More often, though, TBI can lead to a more chronic condition such as hearing loss.

Hearing Loss and TBI

Traumatic brain injuries could lead to hearing loss in several ways:

  1. The pathways between the outer ear and the brain’s auditory cortex may be damaged by head trauma, leading to temporary and often permanent hearing loss.
  2. The eardrum can also be damaged from trauma. 
  3. The small bones of the middle ear can get broken or dislocated, and there can be damage to the tissues of the inner ear.
  4. Finally, there might be cochlear nerve ischemia, where blood vessels critical to hearing can become blocked.

Hearing loss from TBI could involve several other side conditions, including dizziness, vertigo, tinnitus, headaches, and chronic nausea. Other signs include trouble processing speech, which can be even more pronounced when background noise is present.

People with hearing loss due to TBI can also have trouble recognizing where specific sounds come from and severe sound sensitivity (which is called hyperacusis).

Hearing Loss Treatment

It is reasonably easy to find hearing loss care.

Scheduling an appointment for a hearing test is the first step. A hearing healthcare provider offers hearing tests that assess both ears’ hearing capacity. It will highlight the degree of hearing loss you might be experiencing.

Hearing aids are the most common tree for hearing loss. They are devices that receive, process, and amplify sound to improve hearing in the frequencies of sound you are lacking. 

Hearing aids are smaller and more sophisticated than ever, featuring numerous innovations built-in to improve usability and hearing in many different sound environments. 

Seeking Treatment for Hearing Loss

Sports are one of the primary sources of concussion or traumatic brain injury for younger individuals. It is a good idea to get a hearing exam done at our office before your sports season begins. This will enable you to develop a baseline score for your hearing and will make it easier to notice changes to your hearing as the sports season progresses. If you have already noticed changes to your hearing, testing is also recommended. Whatever your situation, contact us today to set up a hearing test! We’re here to help.