Symptoms Of Acoustic Trauma
The main symptom of acoustic trauma is hearing loss.
Injury occurs at the level of the inner ear. The sensitive hair cells can lose their connections to the nerve cells responsible for hearing.
Ear structures may also be directly damaged by loud noise. Sudden sounds above 130 decibels can damage the ears natural microphone, the organ of Corti.
Acoustic injury can injure the eardrum, along with the small muscles in the ear, particularly the tensor tympani muscle.
In many cases of long-term sound damage, people first begin to have difficulty hearing high-frequency sounds. Difficulty hearing sounds at lower frequencies may occur later.
Your doctor may test your response to different frequencies of sound to assess the extent of acoustic trauma.
One of the most important symptoms that can signal the onset of acoustic trauma is called tinnitus. Tinnitus is a type of injury to the ear that causes a buzzing or ringing sound.
Those with mild to moderate tinnitus will most often be aware of this symptom when theyre in silent environments.
Tinnitus can be caused by drug use, changes to blood vessels, or other conditions and factors, but its often a precursor to acoustic trauma when its caused by exposure to loud noises.
Tinnitus can be persistent or chronic. Long-term tinnitus is a good reason to suspect acoustic trauma.
What Causes Hearing Loss
What causes hearing loss? Though the culprits are varied and vast, any continuous issues with hearing should be addressed by your doctor. Addressing the problem first starts with determining the type of hearing loss. So what are the most common causes?
How The Ear Processes Sound
To understand how hearing loss can occur after a head injury, it will help to understand how the ear works.
The ear comprises three sections: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. Each section plays a part in the hearing process:
- The outer ear consists of the ear lobe and ear canal and protects the rest of the ear.
- The middle ear contains the tympanic membrane , a thin layer of tissue that vibrates when sound waves strike it. This vibration transfers to three small bones in the middle ear which in turn transfer the vibration to the fluid in the inner ear.
- The inner ear contains fluid and a spiral structure called the cochlea. The cochlea senses the movement of the fluid and changes that movement into electrical impulses.
Finally, the cochlea sends electrical impulses to the auditory nerve, which transmits those signals to the brain. If a head injury interrupts any part of this process, hearing loss will result.
For example, the blow from the injury can rupture the eardrum, dislocate the ossicle bones, or sever the auditory nerve. All of this will lead to hearing problems after head injury.
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Ear Damage After Airbag Deployment
While airbags can be life-saving during motor vehicle accidents, they can also create a strong impact and loud explosive noise. The loud sound of an airbag deploying could cause pain and a ringing noise in your ears. Also, if an airbag hits your head directly, the impact could damage the bones inside your ears, potentially causing hearing loss.
If you were recently in a motor vehicle accident and began experiencing problems of hearing loss or a ringing noise in your ears soon after, you may have suffered an injury to your ears as a result of the accident. It is very important that you seek medical attention both to treat the damage and document your injuries.
You may be able to receive compensation for injuries to your ear and hearing loss if it was caused by the motor vehicle accident and the accident was caused by the negligence of another person. Medical documentation and possibly the testimony of a medical expert can be submitted as evidence to prove that the other party is responsible for your loss of hearing or the ringing noise in your ears.
If you believe that you have suffered hearing loss or other damages to your ears as a result of a motor vehicle accident caused by the negligence of another person, contact our firm right away and our experienced personal injury lawyers can assess the facts in your case and help you to collect the compensation you are entitled to.
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When Should I See My Healthcare Provider About Ear Trauma
See your provider right away if you or your child had a head injury, as well as:
- Blood or clear fluid coming from your ear.
These are serious symptoms that may be signs of a life-threatening condition. Even if the head injury seemed minor, you should get medical help. Call your provider, dial 911 or go to the emergency room.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Ear injuries can range from minor to life-threatening. If you or your child has severe ear pain, bleeding ears, dizziness or hearing loss, get help right away. These are signs of a serious medical condition, especially after a blow to the head, fall or other accident. To prevent an ear injury, never put anything in your ears. Wear protective headgear during contact sports. Avoid listening to music at high volumes, and wear ear protection if youre exposed to loud noises.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/14/2021.
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How Is It Possible Your Seasonal Allergies Cause Hearing Loss
Each new year and every new season brings with it the stuffy nose and itchy eyes that means allergies, but does that also mean youll have hearing loss? It might surprise you to know there is a connection for many people. You dont necessarily associate hearing with the immune system, after all. It is not that simple. Your hearing is a complex sense, one that can be affected by an allergic reaction. So, what should you do if your allergies affect your hearing?
Isnt It Hard To Prove Hearing Loss From A Wreck
Now you may be wondering: How would I prove my hearing loss is related to the accident? Doesnt everyone lose their hearing over time?
The answer is: you actually can prove hearing loss. But you need to have your condition supported by a medical expert who can clearly outline how and why your hearing has worsened after an accident. Your doctor may point to specific brain damage, hearing tests, nerve damage in and around the ear, and any surgeries or treatments you needed to recover your hearing.
You can also support your case with information about your lifestyle and your job. If you live in a relatively quiet neighborhood, work a steady job thats free of loud noises, and dont go out of your way to strain your ears by regularly attending loud concerts or using high decibel equipment, then its not difficult to say that your hearing was perfectly fine before the accident.
That being said, hearing loss is considered an invisible injury, and insurance companies, judges, and juries can be dismissive. Proving your hearing loss injuries can be difficult if you do not have extensive medical records. The at-fault insurance company will likely argue that the damage is age or lifestyle-related. However, that should not be your concern. It is your attorneys job to prove your injury in your case, and it is your job to get treatment.
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Types Of Ear Injuries
Hearing loss and balance problems can happen when theres damage to key parts of the ear, like the eardrum, ear canal, ossicles, cochlea, or the vestibular nerve.
Heres a look at the most common causes of ear injuries and how they can affect kids:
Cuts, scrapes, burns, or frostbite. When theres an injury to the outer ear or ear canal, bleeding and infection can affect other parts of the ear.
Inserting something into the ear. Things like a cotton swab, fingernail, or pencil can scratch the ear canal or cause a tear or hole in the eardrum .
Direct blows to the ear or head. Falls, car accidents, sports injuries, or fights may tear the eardrum, dislocate the ossicles, or damage the inner ear. Wrestlers, boxers, and other athletes who endure repeated forceful hits to the outer ear can develop severe bruising or blood clots that block blood flow to the cartilage of the outer ear and damage its shape and structure .
Loud noise. Kids can have significant or permanent hearing loss when theyre exposed to really loud noises daily or over a long period of time. This is called acoustic trauma or noise-induced hearing loss.
When this happens, the tiny hairs in the cochlea become damaged. Loud sounds can cause it, as can noises that are repeated over time . But for kids and teens, listening to loud music is one of the chief causes of this type of preventable hearing loss.
What Are Ear Injuries And Ear Trauma
Injuries can happen to any part of the ear, including the inner ear, middle ear and external ear, which is the part of the ear you see and the ear canal. Trauma can cause damage in the middle ear and inner ear . An ear injury can result from loud noises, changes in air pressure or foreign objects in the ear.
Many different types of accidents can damage your ear canal, eardrum, cartilage and skin around your ear. The ear canal is a passageway of bone, skin and cartilage that leads from the exterior ear to the middle ear, where your eardrum sits. The eardrum is a thin membrane that protects your ear from bacteria and conducts sound.
These injuries can cause ear bleeding, ear pain, balance problems and hearing loss. A severe ear injury can be life-threatening. If you had a head injury and you have blood coming from your ear, seek medical help right away.
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Diagnosis Of Hearing Problems
Accurate diagnosis and treatment are essential. The first step is to see a doctor for a referral to an audiologist or an ear, nose and throat specialist if needed. Some audiologists run specialist clinics to help manage particular conditions with specialist hearing aids or therapeutic noise generators.
The 6 Most Common Causes Of Hearing Loss:
Be sure to consult your doctor to determine what causes hearing loss for you so it can be properly treated!
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Should I Take My Hearing Loss Seriously Following A Wreck
Many people dont mention hearing loss following a wreck if they are filing an insurance claim. You may think its a minor inconvenience compared to the rest of your injuries, or you may be more focused on your other injuries that are causing daily pain. Or you may believe it will be difficult to prove, and so its not worth the effort. You are right to assume that insurance companies do not take hearing loss claims seriously, because they see them as trivial expenses.
However, we at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys know that hearing loss can be a major, lasting injury, and if a wreck caused it, you should be fully compensated for past and future medical expenses related to it. When you work with us, we will not minimize any accident-related injury you suffer. Both my partner, Ken Gibson, and I have first-hand experience with car accidents, and we know how difficult it is to fully recover, especially when you are dealing with a dismissive insurance company.
But we also know how important it is for you to recover as much as possible in your claim. Receiving fair and proper compensation after an accident could be the difference between a lifetime of impaired hearing and returning to a normal life. Thats why we will not leave any stone unturned in getting you compensated.
Coping With Hearing Loss After Head Injury
Hearing loss is just one of the many complications of brain injury you can experience.
Its common for there to sometimes be a delay between your head injury and hearing loss. During the first few chaotic weeks after a brain injury, you might not notice you have any hearing problems until life quiets down.
Most hearing problems do improve as your head injury heals. If your hearing does not improve on its own, talk to your doctor. You may have a more serious form of hearing loss that will require some of the treatment methods listed above.
Otherwise, it might be worthwhile to consult a speech-language pathologist to help you learn some compensation techniques. This will enable you to communicate and stay engaged with others despite hearing difficulties.
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Hearing Loss And Concussions
Due to the head trauma, a concussion can cause ear damage and changes to the auditory pathway up to the brain.
Many changes can occur to the ear, causing reversible or sometimes even irreversible damage. The eardrum can rupture, the small ossicle bones of the middle ear can become damaged or dislocated, damage to the tissues and membranes of the inner ear can occur, as well as ischemia of the cochlear nerve.
The central auditory pathways of the brain can also be disrupted during head trauma.
These anatomical disturbances can results in many auditory and vestibular symptoms, including:
- Difficulty processing auditory information, especially in the presence of background noise
- Difficulty locating where sounds are coming from
- Conductive or sensorineural hearing loss
Blows To Your Head Can Damage Your Ears
The dangers of concussions, caused by traumatic stretching and damage to nerve cells in the brain that lead to dizziness, nausea and headache, has been well documented.
But ear damage that is sometimes caused by a head injury has symptoms so similar to the signs of a concussion that doctors may misdiagnose it and administer the wrong treatment.
A perilymph fistula is a tear or defect in the small, thin membranes that normally separate the air-filled middle ear from the inner ear, which is filled with a fluid called perilymph. When a fistula forms, tiny amounts of this fluid leak out of the inner ear, an organ crucial not only for hearing but also for balance.
Losing even a few small drops of perilymph leaves people disoriented, nauseous and often with a splitting headache, vertigo and memory loss. While most people with a concussion recover within a few days, a perilymph fistula can leave a person disabled for months.
There is some controversy around perilymph fistula due to its difficulty of diagnosis the leak is not directly observable, but rather identified by its symptoms. However, it is generally accepted as a real condition by otolaryngologists and sports physicians, and typically known to follow a traumatic event.
But concussions as well as post-concussion syndrome, which is marked by dizziness, headache and other symptoms that can last even a year after the initial blow also occur as the result of such an injury.
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What Is Acoustic Trauma
Acoustic trauma is an injury to the inner ear thats often caused by exposure to a high-decibel noise. This injury can occur after exposure to a single, very loud noise or from exposure to noises at significant decibels over a longer period of time.
Some injuries to the head can cause acoustic trauma if the eardrum is ruptured or if other injuries to the inner ear occur.
The eardrum protects the middle ear and inner ear. It also transmits signals to the brain by way of small vibrations.
Acoustic trauma can damage the way that these vibrations are handled, resulting in hearing loss. Sound moving into the inner ear can cause what doctors sometimes call a threshold shift, which can trigger hearing loss.
If your doctor believes that your symptoms indicate acoustic trauma, they may try to differentiate between trauma that occurred suddenly through injury and trauma that occurred through ongoing exposure to loud noises.
Different degrees of acoustic trauma can require different treatments.
People at an increased risk for acoustic trauma include those who:
- work at a job where loud industrial equipment operates for long periods of time
- live or work where other high-decibel sounds continue for long periods of time
- frequently attend music concerts and other events with high-decibel music
- use gun ranges
- encounter extremely loud sounds without proper equipment, such as earplugs
People continually exposed to noise levels over 85 decibels are at an increased risk for acoustic trauma.
When To See A Gp
See a GP if:
- you think you have a perforated eardrum
- you have already seen a GP and your symptoms are not any better after a few weeks or you get new symptoms
Your eardrum will usually heal without treatment, but a GP can check for an infection and talk to you about how you can look after your ear.
They’ll look into your ear using a small handheld torch with a magnifying lens. The tip of this goes into your ear, but it only goes in a little way and should not hurt.
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