Experiencing Hearing Loss After Head Trauma? Here’s What to Do
A concussion is already an unpleasant experience.
It can leave you feeling dazed, confused, and sluggish. It can cause nausea, vomiting, and balance issues. Unsurprisingly, it can also leave you with a splitting headache.
But did you know that in certain rare cases, head trauma can actually result in hearing loss?
It makes sense if you stop and think about it. If you’ve ever taken a hit, you were probably left with your ears ringing. It follows that a harder blow could cause more severe injury. As noted by Flint Rehab, this can manifest in a few different ways:
- Conductive hearing loss. Typically, this is the result of the ossicles becoming either damaged or dislodged. In rare cases, a severe head injury can even trigger abnormal bone growth, causing the ossicles to fuse.
- Labyrinthine concussion. This occurs when an injury to the head causes severe damage to the cochlea. It’s very similar to an injury you might see with traumatic levels of noise.
- Central hearing loss. It’s not just the ear that may be injured by head trauma. Certain areas of the brain can also be damaged by a hard enough blow, interrupting the auditory pathway even if the ears are completely undamaged.
- Auditory verbal agnosia. Technically, this isn’t hearing loss but rather damage to the area of the brain responsible for processing spoken words. That said, it manifests similarly to a hearing disorder.
- Sensorineural hearing loss. The most common type of hearing loss related to head trauma. This is the result of damage to the stereocilia, the small hair-like structures in the inner ear responsible for transmitting sound. It’s rare for this to result in total hearing loss; it more often makes it difficult to hear specific frequencies.
Hearing loss and tinnitus aside, symptoms of this form of injury may include:
- Difficulty understanding speech, particularly in areas where there’s a great deal of background noise.
- Difficulty determining the direction of sound.
- Extreme sensitivity to sound, known as hyperacusis.
Hearing loss or not, the first thing you should do after suffering a traumatic brain injury is seek medical care. You’ll want to go to the nearest doctor’s office, clinic, or emergency department as soon as possible. That way, if there’s anything seriously wrong, you’ll be able to catch it sooner rather than later.
If you find yourself suffering from any symptoms of hearing loss, you should also schedule an appointment with your audiologist. As with a concussion, if you are suffering from hearing loss, the sooner you can start receiving treatment, the better.
Beyond that, the typical advice for treating a concussion applies. Get plenty of rest, avoid straining your eyes, and stay away from any unnecessary physical activity. Take care of yourself, and before long, you’ll be as good as new.