Home / Blog / Is It Normal to Have Ringing in My Ears After a Car Crash?

The ringing in the ears many people experience after a car crash is known as tinnitus. Recognizing the symptoms and getting treatment for tinnitus after a crash is key to proving the car accident caused your condition, and ultimately getting compensation.

Read on to learn whether it’s normal to have ringing in your ears after a car crash, and how a car accident lawyer can work with you to put together your claim for compensation to treat tinnitus and other car crash-related injuries and conditions.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is when you hear ringing, humming, buzzing, or other phantom sounds despite no corresponding outside noises in your environment. You may hear tinnitus in a soft or loud tone or a low or high pitch in one or both of your ears. Severe tinnitus can even interfere with your hearing, which can impact some victims’ ability to work.

Nearly 25 million Americans have experienced at least five minutes of tinnitus at some point in the last year, representing about 10% of the adult population. The Mayo Clinic states that older adults, those with health conditions like cardiovascular disease, and people who work around loud machinery are at an increased risk for tinnitus.

What Causes Tinnitus After a Car Accident?

The underlying causes of tinnitus can result from head and neck injuries sustained in a car accident. Additionally, airbags can implode upon impact, making your ears ring.

  • Whiplash: A whiplash injury occurs when the neck jerks violently back and forth from sudden acceleration and deceleration—about 50% of people with whiplash recover in the first 3 months without further complications. However, a 2020 study found that approximately 10% of people with whiplash develop tinnitus due to damage to the brain’s auditory pathways resulting from the back-and-forth movement.
  • Traumatic Brain Injury: A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can damage the inner ear, nerves that control hearing, and the brain part associated with hearing. About 53% of people with TBIs can develop tinnitus. Since car accidents are one of the leading causes of TBIs, according to the CDC, your chances of developing a TBI and tinnitus after a collision are high.
  • Airbag Deployment: An airbag can inflate instantly with large amounts of gas, creating a loud pressure wave at 150 to 170 decibels. This burst of pressure can injure and rupture the inner ear because of the air bag’s impact on the ears, causing tinnitus and even hearing loss.

What Are Symptoms of Tinnitus After a Car Accident?

Tinnitus symptoms after a car accident may vary in intensity and duration. You may experience the following signs that require you to obtain medical attention:

  • Ringing, Hissing, and Buzzing: Constant ringing in the ears characterizes tinnitus. You may also hear other noises such as clicks, hisses, humming, and roaring. The noises can also sound like rhythmic whooshing or pulsating sounds in time with the beat of your heart in a condition known as pulsatile tinnitus.
  • Ear Pain: Tinnitus is often accompanied by ear pain because the two conditions are linked. Changes in the nervous system that are causing tinnitus can result in ear pain for those suffering from it.
  • Sleep Problems: People with tinnitus often have insomnia due to chronic fatigue and difficulty falling asleep at night. A 2015 study of tinnitus patients found that 76% of them had insomnia. The distress of living with tinnitus affected their ability to sleep well, which often goes on to further negatively impact victims’ lives during the day.
  • Headaches: The trigeminal nerve, one of the largest cranial nerves, releases inflammatory peptides that may cause the throbbing pain of headaches. Frequent migraines, such as may result after a TBI, can cause central sensitization, resulting in tinnitus.

How Long Does Tinnitus Last After an Accident?

Loud noise exposure, such as in a car crash, can cause acute tinnitus that lasts at least 3 to 6 months. Tinnitus lasting over 6 months is considered chronic tinnitus. Some people develop tinnitus gradually, taking several months to years before it aggravates them. The timeline from acute to chronic can go anywhere from 3 to 12 months.

How is Tinnitus Diagnosed?

If you are experiencing tinnitus, you must visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis. Your doctor will have you undergo basic hearing tests and examine your head, neck, and ears. They can have you take imaging tests like MRIs or CTs to detect the cause of your tinnitus. If you have recently been in a car crash, it is very likely that the crash is the cause of your symptoms and you should make sure to inform your doctor.

Your doctor’s diagnosis and imaging results can help your lawyer prove your injury, and how you were harmed by your accident. Your doctor can provide your attorney with the estimated costs to fully treat the condition based on the timeline and severity of your tinnitus. Your lawyer can use this information to calculate a fair settlement and seek compensation to cover your medical costs related to tinnitus caused by your accident.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Wagner Reese

Seeking compensation after a devastating car accident can help you obtain treatment for a TBI and associated conditions like tinnitus. Contact the Indianapolis car accident lawyers with Wagner Reese after your accident to discuss your case. We can help you understand your legal options for compensation and seek a fair settlement on your behalf for your injuries and how they have affected your mental health, physical health, and ability to work.

Speak to one of our staff members through our online chat or request a free case evaluation through the online contact form today.