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My Ears Are Ringing...
Ringing in the ear, or tinnitus, can be a troublesome symptom after a concussion. It is usually described as a sound (whistling, ringing, hissing) that is perceived although there is no actual external source. Tinnitus is believed to arise from abnormal nerve signals from the cochlea, a structure in your inner ear.
Tinnitus and Concussion
Tinnitus is common for a variety of conditions, including age-related hearing loss, and some people experience it after a concussion. It can be continuous or come on and off.
For some, tinnitus can be disturbingly loud and is often worse at night in a quiet environment. Most tinnitus related to concussion improves over time without any specific treatment.
What You Can Do To Reduce Tinnitus
The most common strategy to reduce tinnitus is the use of “white noise” or low volume background sound to dampen the loudness of the ringing. This can be done by having music or a radio on at low volume. Some people find it useful to have a white noise machine or use headphones to listen to music.
Distraction from focusing on the sound can also be helpful. Some medications that are used to treat depression and anxiety are also used to reduce tinnitus. As tinnitus tends to be worst in the evenings, many of these strategies can be used around bedtime to help with sleep despite the persistent sound.
When Should I See My Family Doctor About Tinnitus?
Occasionally, persistent tinnitus can be a sign of more serious conditions that would need further medical assessment. If you have any of the following signs and symptoms associated with your tinnitus, you should see your family doctor for an evaluation:
- Vertigo – with spinning sensation and nausea
- Any pain or drainage from the ear
- New hearing loss
- Loss of balance or recurrent falls