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Stacey Samuels-Cole, AuD
Head Injury and Hearing Loss/Balance Issues
Hearing Professionals Inc.
. http://www.hearing-professionals.com/

Head Injury and Hearing Loss/Balance Issues

A new season of sports is approaching and discussions are taking place concerning concussions and other traumatic brain injuries that may occur while playing.

Concussions, the most common type of traumatic brain injury, are caused by a blow to the head or body, a fall, or another injury that jars or shakes the brain inside the skull.

Though concussions are classified as the least serious type of traumatic brain injury, the primary injury is often bruising from the brain moving in the skull which may have an effect on a person's language, speech and visual processing, attention, and balance.

If you have suffered a concussion or other type of traumatic brain injury, it's important to know that it could be causing hearing loss and/or balance problems.

Often, the outer and inner ear is directly in the path of any trauma, and hearing-specific problems often follow a concussion or traumatic brain injury.

There could be damage to the outer ear (pinna), eardrum, or bones/muscles that lay behind the eardrum primarily affecting the ability to hear soft and moderate sounds.

If damage has occurred to the inner ear hair cells in the cochlea, this will affect both the ability to hear as well as the ability to hear clearly.

Finally, our bodies maintain balance through touch, vision, and our inner ear balance (vestibular) system.Trauma can cause inner ear vestibular damage, affecting our balance.

Following a head injury, hearing problems can occur for several reasons, including mechanical and neurological complications. Specifically, when the inner ear or temporal lobes of the brain have been damaged, traumatic brain damage can often lead to the following auditory symptoms

  • Hyperacusis (normal listening situations seem very loud)
  • Tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears)
  • Hearing loss (sounds seem muffled, less clear, ears feel plugged)
  • Difficulty filtering one set of sounds from background noise
  • Auditory agnosia (the person is unable to recognize the meanings of certain sounds)
  • Difficulty following rapid speech
  • Difficulty following long “conversations” or instructions

It is recommended that anyone suffering from head trauma be evaluated medically. Since many hearing problems cannot be detected by the patient, diagnostic evaluations may include neuroimaging, neuropsychological tests, and comprehensive audiologic evaluation including vestibular balance assessment.

If you suspect you've had a concussion, speak to your healthcare provider. If you've had a concussion and believe you may be experiencing hearing and/or balance problem related to the injury, call your local audiologist for more information and testing.

MD (301) 805-6805 | VA (703) 288-3130