RINGING IN THE EARS/HEARING LOSS
A common result of traumatic brain injury (TBI) is ringing in the ears, also known as Tinnitus. When the head is severely shaken the complex but fragile systems in the ears get injured. Generally, ringing in the ears is suggestive that the nerves in the ear are dying. It is also associated with hearing loss. Tinnitus by itself can run from mere annoyance to life-changing, depending on the severity. In mild cases it is a whistling or high pitched noise heard at quiet times and can interfere with sleeping. More severe cases can block conversations and other essential aspects of normal hearing.
You need to go to an ENT (ear, nose and throat doctor) to have your symptoms checked. While traditionally there was nothing much to be done about tinnitus there are now some laser based therapies that can improve the situation. Some other up and coming therapies include:
- Repetitive transcranial magnet stimulation (rTMS) using a powerful magnet, electromagnetic pulses are sent into the brain.
- Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), this noninvasive electrical stimulation of the brain has shown some promise with up to 40% of patients receiving some benefit from the treatment.
- Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is already an accepted procedure for Parkinson's and tremors and involves the surgical implantation of electrodes directly into the brain. This would, of course, only be appropriate in the most severe cases.