There are several hearing problems that can happen after a concussion.
- find it difficult to hear and follow conversations in large groups
- have ringing in your ears (tinnitus)
- find everyday sounds too loud
- have hearing loss
It’s important to help your brain relearn how to process sound. It may take a few weeks of being around sound for your ears to readjust. An assessment by an audiologist will help you find how to best manage your symptoms. Here are some general tips on hearing after a concussion.
Caring for Yourself After a Concussion Video Series: Noise and Light Sensitivity (Watch on YouTube)
What to do when everyday sounds are too loud
Keep yourself surrounded with sound that is comfortable for you. Don’t stay away from sound. If you stay away from sound, your ears will start to adjust to the quiet. Then everyday sound will become louder and harder to tolerate. If you have trouble hearing in large groups or avoid social activities because of your hearing, consider musician ear plugs. They filter background noise but allow you to hear conversations with those close to you.
How to help your hearing:
- try slowly increasing your exposure to noise even if it’s only for five to 10 minutes at a time.
- try listening to music, radio shows or recordings of nature sounds at a comfortable volume.
- keep a fan running or sit near a table top fountain
- spend time with one earbud in your ear listening to very low level white noise such as rain or nature sounds
Should you wear hearing protection or ear plugs?
Only wear hearing protection when you really need to. When every day sounds are too loud, some people wear ear plugs or earmuffs all the time. Avoiding sound will only make the problem worse once you remove the plugs. Use ear protection only if sounds around you are uncomfortably loud. Also use ear protection for work or if you are around loud sounds like lawn mowers, concerts, power tools or firearms.
Are your ears ringing?
Ringing in your ears, also called tinnitus, is noise inside your head, described as a ‘ringing or buzzing sound.’ It can also sound like humming. It can be constant or come and go. It’s often worse at night when it is quiet and you are trying to fall asleep. It can also be worse when you are stressed, have headaches or are wearing ear plugs.
The best way to help stop the ringing is to have another noise compete with it to ‘mask’ the ringing sound. Being in total quiet will actually make the ringing sound louder. Try running a fan or using a white noise machine – even when you sleep. You can also try the Sleep Pillow app.