When you think of falling and bumping your head, concussions are the first things that come to mind. But in the case of traumatic brain injuries, concussions are just one of many side effects. Ears exist to collect sound and send that information to your brain. Damage to the parts of your brain receiving that information can cause hearing loss.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivors who suffer hearing loss must live with a new normal, and it is not easy.
Hearing loss can lead to depression
Sudden total deafness can be a social nightmare. How can you participate in a conversation if you cannot hear what is happening? Rather than trying to keep up, many sufferers choose to withdraw.
Single-sided hearing impairment is also problematic. These patients experience the “cocktail party effect.” With one non-working ear, the other ear will try to pick up the slack and process sounds from all sides. The result is overwhelmingly loud background noise. The influx of unwelcome sound is nerve-wracking. People with this problem often need to take breaks away from the noise. The isolation can lead to depression, paranoia or substance abuse.
Hearing loss increases the risk of dementia
According to a study from John Hopkins Medicine, even mild hearing loss can result in double the risk of dementia. When the brain has to work overtime to try and process sound, it neglects its other duties. An overworked central processor will deteriorate faster than it should.
Learning that other TBI survivors have similar experiences can help ease the mental toll for patients. Even without sound, they may not feel so alone.