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How Can Concussions Affect Sound Processing?

We often associate concussions with heavy-contact football games at the Stormont Vail Evens Center, but concussions are also fairly prevalent in children. The Centers for Disease Control states that childhood concussion or brain injuries increase with age from 2% in children five years and younger to 12.2% in children aged 12-17.

What Are Common Causes and Symptoms of Concussions?

Doctor showing a man a model of the human brain

A concussion is a mild form of traumatic brain injury caused by a jolt, bump or blow to the head, often as a result of causes including but not limited to:

  1. Falls

  2. Sports

  3. Motor vehicle injury

  4. Hard contact with another object

  5. Whiplash

Concussion symptoms vary in severity depending on the type and force of the blow and may include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Headache

  2. Nausea

  3. Vomiting

  4. Tinnitus

  5. Fatigue

  6. Blurry vision

  7. Confusion or processing issues

  8. Amnesia surrounding the event

  9. Loss of consciousness

  10. Slurred speech

  11. Temporary cognitive delay or trouble with sound processing

Concussions and Sound Processing

Cognitive delay is common in concussion cases and can exhibit similar symptoms as hearing loss. You may notice that you or your loved one is having trouble processing verbal and other information after a concussion. While issues with sound processing is not usually a long-term issue, seeing a specialist for a hearing test at the outset of symptoms is wise to rule out physical or lasting damage to the ears.

Keep a close eye on any symptoms of hearing loss you or your loved one may exhibit. Identifying hearing loss early on will help develop a treatment plan and may reveal any lasting damage from the initial concussion.

Symptoms of hearing loss may include but are not limited to:

  1. Trouble understanding words or phrases, especially in crowded or noisy places

  2. Avoiding social situations

  3. Raising the volume on the TV or radio to an uncomfortable level

  4. Asking others to speak up

  5. Needing sentences to be repeated or rephrased

While trouble processing sound due to concussion-induced cognitive delay will usually go away with the rest of your symptoms, lasting hearing issues may be a sign that the blow damaged the mechanisms of the inner or middle ear.

Injuries or trauma to the head can irreparably damage the hearing mechanisms of the ear. While trauma-damaged hearing is usually permanent, it can be managed with the help of hearing aids.

For more information about hearing loss and its treatment options, contact Topeka Ear Nose & Throat today to make an appointment with one of our specialists.


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