How Traumatic Brain Injury Affects Hearing

TBI is short for traumatic brain injury and it can cause hearing problems. The reason is that the inner ear has a direct connection to the central nervous system. Hearing loss and ringing in the ears (tinnitus) are two most common side effects of the traumatic brain injury. However, there are other problems that may cause when a person suffers from brain injuries. For example, hyperacusis in which the patient finds normal sounds very loud. Moreover, the patient may find it difficult to differ background sounds from other sounds. Another hearing problem is known as auditory agnosia where the patient fails to recognize certain sounds.

After a traumatic brain injury, hearing problems may occur due to a number of reasons. There are two types of hearing problems namely neurological and mechanical. These problems occur especially when the temporal lobes and/or the inner ear receives damages. External bleeding in the canal of the ear, middle ear damage or temporal lobe damage may result in auditory dysfunction. Serious hearing problems may occur if the brain injury is of serious nature.

Children who are suffering from traumatic brain injury may face other problems associated with a communication area, such as obtaining new information, task completion, spatial orientation, social conversation and impulse control. According to research studies, kids, for the most part, face these additional problems.

The internal ear consist of many delicate membranes. These membranes are so soft that they can receive severe injuries in a traumatic brain injury. For example, the cochlea (an soft spiral-like bone in the ear) can receive serious damages if the head hits a hard surface strongly. The ear may be severely damaged as a result. Other kinds of damages to the membrane can cause dizziness, nausea and hearing problems. At times, the patient is suggested to have surgery in order to correct damage to the internal ear.

Our primary means of communication is hearing. Hearing loss makes it difficult for us to communicate with other people. Aside from this, it can complicate other side effects of traumatic damage as well. Primarily, it causes social and cognitive problems. Some traumatic brain injury sufferers already have cognitive problems, such as difficulty in finding appropriate words to communicate. The patient may fail to hear what is going on in their surroundings. In such a condition, the patient should seek medical assistance as soon as possible.

Fortunately, hearing problems usually disappear automatically a couple of weeks after the patient has received the head injury. However, not all hearing problems recover on their own. Some problems last many years even if the patient is receiving medical treatments.

Some hearing problems are noticeable and the patient can contact a doctor for medical assistance, while other hearing problems are unnoticeable and the patient may not detect them. Therefore, it is important for a traumatic brain injury patient to get in touch with an audiologist even if they notice no problem with their hearing in order to make sure everything is OK.

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