Car accidents can be very physically and emotionally traumatic. In even the most minor fender benders, car accident victims can suffer a wide range of debilitating symptoms from conditions like whiplash, concussions, broken bones, and more. One symptom that people may not expect after a car accident is ringing in the ears, also known as tinnitus. This symptom may leave you wondering: why are my ears ringing after a car accident?
There are many explanations for why you may be experiencing tinnitus after a wreck, such as head injuries, neck injuries, or even the loud noise from airbag deployment. Below, our Chicago personal injury lawyers explain the basics of tinnitus and how the aforementioned issues relate to ear ringing.
If you have been in a car accident involving someone else’s negligence, you deserve to be fairly compensated. Auto insurance coverage can help with this, but many times, victims don’t receive a fair settlement. So they may turn to legal counsel and a possible personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party. Allow a Chicago personal injury lawyer at Curcio Law Offices to obtain justice on your behalf. Call 312-321-1111 to schedule a free consultation today.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is basically ringing in the ears. The ringing sound can occur in one or both ears, depending on the underlying condition or accident that is causing the acoustic injury. Tinnitus can also cause ear pain and other strange sounds such as buzzing, clicking, hissing, thumping, and humming.
Other symptoms that can accompany persistent ringing in the ears include poor concentration, dizziness, headaches, poor balance, hearing problems, insomnia, vertigo, agitation/frustration, and even depression.
How Many Americans Have Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a very common condition. In fact, the Cleveland Clinic claims that more than 50 million Americans suffer from ringing sounds in their ears. At least 12 million Americans are constantly bothered by loud ringing.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Lots of different conditions and accidents can cause tinnitus. Listed below are the most common causes of this condition.
- Head Injuries such as traumatic brain injuries can cause a wide variety of uncomfortable symptoms, including ringing in the ears. Car accidents are a common cause of head trauma. Car accident victims who suffer a concussion may also develop tinnitus.
- Neck Injuries, such as whiplash injuries, can definitely cause ringing in the ears.
- Loud Noises such as a concert, a loud explosion, or even a gunshot can cause acoustic trauma to the ear.
- General Hearing Loss from an extremely loud sound or just old age can cause loud ringing in the ears.
- Ear Infections and/or Blockages can change the pressure in the ears and lead to tinnitus.
- Meniere’s Disease is an inner ear disorder that can cause serious hearing problems, dizzy spells (vertigo), and ear ringing.
- Blood Vessel Disorders such as high blood pressure or atherosclerosis can change the way blood flows through your veins. Blood flowing through your veins with more force can result in tinnitus.
Is Tinnitus Permanent?
The answer to this question depends on the underlying cause of tinnitus. The permanence of this condition also depends on the severity and duration of your symptoms thus far.
If you have an ear infection or you just came back from a loud concert, it’s likely that the ringing sounds will resolve over the course of a few days. If you have suffered a major physical trauma that may have damaged parts of your ear (such as the inner ear, middle ear, or outer ear), then you may have permanent hearing loss and/or ringing in the ears. Lastly, if you have been dealing with constant ringing in the ears for several weeks, months, or even years, then the tinnitus may be permanent.
The only way to truly know if your case of tinnitus is permanent is to seek medical attention. A health care professional can look inside your ear canal, run a few diagnostic tests, and give you an individualized prognosis. They can also give you medications to help you cope with the discomfort of tinnitus. Many people experience significant relief from tinnitus once a doctor treats the underlying issue. So if your doctor determines that the tinnitus is likely caused by a whiplash injury from a motor vehicle accident, and they treat the whiplash, then your tinnitus will likely resolve.
Receiving medical treatment for the underlying cause can partially or completely resolve tinnitus. If a health care professional deems the case of tinnitus as permanent, then treatment will focus on making the patient more comfortable with the persistent ringing sound.
For example, doctors may recommend soothing background noises such as nature sounds, white noise, and ASMR. Relaxation techniques and mental health counseling may also help the stress associated with constant tinnitus. Stress can worsen many conditions, including tinnitus by making the ringing sound more noticeable. Staying comfortable and calm is ultimately the best treatment for this condition.
Why Are My Ears Ringing After a Car Accident?
So back to the main question at hand: why are my ears ringing after a car accident?
Below, our legal team explains the most common causes of tinnitus after a car accident which are airbag explosions, whiplash injuries, and head injuries.
Airbags are designed to protect us from catastrophic injuries during car accidents. But this protection can come at a price. Airbags can cause different types of injuries in the process of saving your life. For example, airbags can cause bruising, burns, and even ear damage due to the explosive sound it makes upon deployment.
Many people compare the sound of airbag deployment to a gunshot. According to SAE International, the sound pressure level (SPL) will vary depending on the type of airbag. But the mean sound pressure level for a driver side airbag is approximately 160 decibels (dB). A passenger side airbag will create a mean SPL of 168 dB. Lastly, dual airbag deployment will create a mean SPL of 170dB.
Let’s put this into perspective. According to the CDC, the average SPL of a normal conversation is approximately 60 dB. Gas powered lawn mowers are measured around 85 dB. And lastly, firecrackers are measured around 150 dB. You are at risk for gradual hearing loss if you consistently listen to loud noises over 70 dB, and you are at risk for immediate ear damage if you listen to loud noises over 120 dB.
So multiple airbags deploying around you can definitely lead to acoustic injuries in your ears after a car accident. The close proximity of this tiny “explosion” can even fracture the tiny ear bones in one or both ears. So if you’re experiencing ringing in the ears after a car accident, the airbags could definitely be to blame.
A whiplash injury can also cause tinnitus after a car accident. Whiplash is considered a soft tissue neck injury, which means that the soft tissues in the neck (such as muscles and tendons) become damaged. Not only does this injury naturally cause neck pain, but it can cause ear pain and ringing too. That’s because the nerves and blood vessels in the neck (which travel up to the ears) often become compressed or damaged from the extremely violent back and forth motion.
Head trauma from car accidents can also cause ear pain and ringing. In fact, if you were to suffer even a mild traumatic brain injury, such as a concussion, one of the first symptoms you may notice is tinnitus. This may be due to an actual ear injury or damage to the auditory cortex in the brain.
Can You Sue for Tinnitus or Hearing Loss After a Car Accident?
If you are experiencing ringing in the ears and hearing problems after a car crash, you can definitely sue the at-fault party for damages, especially if insurance didn’t provide enough coverage. A severe ear injury or a severe case of tinnitus can lead to some level of disability. Tinnitus and hearing loss can prevent people from doing their jobs, performing specific household duties, socializing, and just living a normal life.
Car Accident Damages
If you have suffered hearing loss and/or tinnitus due to an auto accident, you deserve financial compensation from the at-fault driver. A Chicago car accident lawyer at Curcio Law Offices can help you recover fair compensation for the following damages:
- Past and future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity if you can no longer do some or all of your job duties due to hearing loss/tinnitus
- Emotional distress
- Permanent disability
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Call Chicago Car Accident Lawyers at Curcio Law Offices Today
If someone else’s negligence on the roads has caused you to suffer physical trauma – such as hearing loss and/or tinnitus – you have grounds to seek maximum compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Our legal team has the skill and experience necessary to handle all sorts of personal injury claims, including ones involving damage to the ears after a car accident. Call a Chicago car accident lawyer at 312-321-1111 to schedule a free consultation with us today.