Noise Sensitivities and Tinnitus

Key Points:

  • Noise sensitivity is common after a concussion, but generally improves over time.
  • Tinnitus is less common.
  • Remember if your symptoms spike you are not causing any damage to your brain.
  • There are strategies you can use initially to help; then gradually reduce your dependence on them, as you can tolerate.
  • Talk to your doctor if your symptoms are not starting to improve after 4 weeks after your injury.

After a concussion you may experience symptoms that are triggered or made worse by noisy places such as school or the mall. Being more sensitive to sound is common after concussion.

Tinnitus is a ringing or buzzing noise in your ears and can be due to changes in the inner ear or to the part of the brain that controls hearing. Feeling anxious, depressed, stressed, or getting poor sleep can make it worse so it’s important to take care of your mood and sleep.

For most people these symptoms usually improve over time.

Add to My Recovery Plan 📒

Here are some common strategies that many teenagers find helpful. You can chose the one that you would like to add to your personalized Recovery Plan.

Gradually Increase Your Tolerance to Sound

It takes time to build tolerance to sound, so start doing activities in a quiet place. If you notice that the sounds are making your symptoms worse (e.g. making your headache feel worse), then this is a sign that you overdid it, and you may need to take an extra break (e.g. take a short walk, drink water, or go to a quieter room).

Remember, if your symptoms get worse, you are not causing damage to your brain.

It’s common to experience an increase in symptoms as you are figuring out what your tolerance is, but over time, your sensitivity to noise is expected to get better gradually.

When to Seek Further Help

If symptoms are not improving after 4 weeks, your family doctor can guide you to access additional support. This could include a referral to an interdisciplinary concussion clinic, and/or a hearing physician (ENT or ear nose throat specialist), and/or an audiologist.

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