Trauma from falls, auto accidents, sports injuries, and physical violence can cause various types of damage to your head and body. In fact, even mild trauma can negatively affect your health. Injuries that you might think of as relatively harmless may cause more damage than you realize.
Among the lesser-known consequences of head injuries are damage to hearing and problems with balance. Both can have a negative impact on your health and your quality of life.
At Sharp Hearing Care Professionals, Dr. Kevin Sharim and his team of care providers offer comprehensive hearing services. Here, we present important information about how head injuries may affect your hearing and balance.
About head injuries
Head injuries are surprisingly common. In fact, they’re among the most common causes of disability and death in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
When you experience a blow to your head, it can cause internal injuries that you can’t see. Even though your skull is very hard, your brain can sustain injury without obvious damage to your skull, face, or scalp.
Even a seemingly simple head injury can lead to:
- Bruising or tearing of brain tissue
- Damage to blood vessels
- Damage to the structures in your ears
- Hematomas (blood clots)
In fact, traumatic brain injury is sometimes referred to as an invisible injury because it can cause medical problems that are difficult to recognize or diagnose.
Impact on balance
Structures in your inner ear play an important role in helping you maintain your balance. These structures, known collectively as the vestibular system, contain fluid and other components that contribute to balance.
If your head injury causes damage or other problems with your inner ear, you may experience balance problems such as dizziness or vertigo. Ironically, these problems can increase your risk of falls and additional head injuries in the future.
Impact on hearing
Head injuries can affect hearing in two ways: first, by causing damage to your inner ear or other parts of the ear and, second, by harming the parts of your brain associated with processing sound.
Either way, head injuries can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss. Even mild head injuries can affect hearing: One study found that 58% of people who experienced traumatic brain injury without any bone fracture had some level of hearing loss.
Unwanted side effect: Tinnitus
Even when a head injury doesn’t trigger severe hearing loss, brain damage, or other major damage, it can lead to tinnitus, a condition that causes annoying buzzing, ringing, roaring, hissing, or other sensations in your ears.
Tinnitus can have many causes, including age-related hearing loss, exposure to loud sounds, and certain types of nerve problems. But it can also occur as a result of a head injury.
A matter of time
Doctors sometimes have trouble connecting hearing or balance problems to past head injuries because these conditions can arise weeks or even months after the incident. In some cases, people don’t even remember experiencing the head injury that led to the problems.
If you have any kind of trauma to your head, don’t assume that it’s harmless or that it will take care of itself. Even if you’re not having much pain, head injuries can cause potentially serious complications, and we urge you to seek immediate medical care if you fall or experience any kind of accident that involves a blow to your head.
We also encourage you to tell Dr. Sharim if you’re having unexplained problems with your hearing or balance or if you have experienced any type of head trauma in the past.
Getting the care you need
If you’re having trouble with hearing or balance, Dr. Sharim’s team performs examinations and tests to learn more about your condition, such as hearing tests, audiology consultations, and comprehensive hearing evaluations. If needed, he’s happy to refer you to other specialists to assist with your care.
We invite you to schedule an appointment with Sharp Hearing Care Professionals anytime by contacting one of our offices, which are conveniently located in Oxnard, Santa Barbara, West Hills, and Santa Monica, California.