Many have heard ringing in the ears after hitting their heads. You don't have to hit it hard, but when this sensation persists, it becomes a cause for concern.
Dr Edmund Farrar

Dr Edmund Farrar

Medically Reviewed by
Co-Founder & CEO of Oto

Tinnitus from Concussion or Brain Damage: How Long Does it Last?

Many of us have heard ringing in the ears after hitting our heads. You don't even have to hit it particularly hard, but when this sensation persists, it becomes a cause for concern. 

Every year, millions of people worldwide experience a sudden and unexpected phenomenon called tinnitus after suffering a head injury. This condition includes, but is not limited to, a constant ringing, buzzing or humming noise in the ears that can intrude on a person's daily life, causing discomfort, stress and sleep disruption. 

This article explores the question: How long does tinnitus last after a head injury? We delve into scientific research, consider personal experiences and offer insights on coping mechanisms, all in an effort to shed light on this often distressing condition. Ultimately, our aim is to support you in understanding and navigating the journey that follows a head injury.

The Relationship Between Head Injury and Tinnitus

To understand why one might hear a ringing in the ears after hitting their head, it's helpful to know a bit about how our ears work. This amazing system of tiny parts all work together to pick up and make sense of sound, allowing us to hear. However, when a head injury disrupts this carefully balanced system, it can cause tinnitus.

When you knock your head, the force doesn't just affect the place you've hit. It sends a shock wave throughout your skull, all the way to your inner ear, leading to a feeling of pressure similar to a clogged ear. This happens because the changes can upset the balance of fluid in a part of your ear called the cochlea, which plays a key role in how you hear.

Additionally, the cochlea is home to thousands of tiny hair cells responsible for translating sound waves into electrical signals that the brain can understand. Unfortunately, these hair cells are particularly susceptible to harm from physical trauma, such as a head injury. As this damage is usually irreversible, they can begin to send random electrical signals to the brain, which it interprets as sound, leading to the perception of tinnitus.

It's also worth noting that tinnitus can result from a concussion, a type of traumatic brain injury whose other symptoms include dizziness and headaches. This is because the trauma can disrupt the regular functioning of the brain, including the regions responsible for processing sound, thus causing ear pain and ringing.

How Long Does Tinnitus Last After a Head Injury?

The time it takes for the ringing in your ears to stop after a head injury can vary significantly. This is because everyone is different, every injury is different, and how we cope with things is different, too.

Sometimes, the ringing might only last a few hours – a brief reminder of the knock you took. In other cases, it might stick around for a few days or weeks. And for some, the tinnitus might not go away for several months or years.

A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Audiology found that for around 60% of people who had tinnitus after a head injury, their symptoms improved within six months [1]. This is an encouraging finding, suggesting that with time, our bodies can adjust to any changes caused by the injury. The phantom ringing sounds start to become less noticeable, blending into the background noise of daily life.

On the flip side, the same study found that about 30% of people still noticed their tinnitus even after a year. This shows just how persistent tinnitus can be and highlights the importance of finding ways to support those affected, to help them notice their tinnitus less and reduce its impact on their lives.

This evidence suggests that the road to accepting and living with tinnitus can be winding, with many ups and downs. Just like the process of healing from the injury itself, learning how to stop the ringing in the ears after being hit on the head isn’t straightforward.

Supportive Measures to Cope with Tinnitus after a Head Injury

When you're facing the prospect of a prolonged spell of ringing in your ears after a head injury, it can seem like a daunting journey. But, even in the face of this challenge, there are several supportive measures you can adopt to help you cope with the disruption and reduce your awareness of tinnitus.


One such approach is learning to habituate to the ringing sound. Habituation is the process of getting used to something through repeated exposure. It's like living near a train station. Initially, the sound of the trains passing by can be incredibly distracting, but over time, you tend to notice it less until, in some cases, you stop registering it completely unless you make a conscious effort to hear it. 

The same principle applies to tinnitus. The persistent ringing may be distracting at first, but with time, you learn to accept the sound as part of your auditory landscape, eventually noticing it less and less.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an effective strategy for fast-tracking your habituation to tinnitus. It modifies your reactions and thoughts by altering negative thinking patterns and reducing the emotional toll of the condition. This cognitive shift can speed up your adjustment to tinnitus, gradually lessening its presence over time. With CBT, you're not allowing tinnitus to rule your thoughts; instead, you learn to consider it a standard part of life, thus decreasing its disturbance.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction 

A technique called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) can also be beneficial. This approach promotes heightened awareness and acceptance of one's experiences. In the context of tinnitus, MBSR helps by drawing attention away from the ringing sound and onto other aspects of your environment or inner experiences. This shift in focus can help soothe the intrusion of tinnitus.

Support groups

Support groups also play a crucial role. Connecting with others who are experiencing similar challenges can provide a sense of community and shared understanding. Such groups can provide practical advice and emotional support, helping you to accept and manage the impact of tinnitus on your daily life.

Lifestyle changes

Modifications in lifestyle can also help to reduce the awareness of tinnitus. Regular physical activity, for instance, can help distract the mind from the ringing sound, while adequate rest and a healthy diet can support overall wellness, which is conducive to better-coping mechanisms.

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Embrace Your Tinnitus Journey with Oto

Discover a new way to navigate life with tinnitus with Oto. This revolutionary mobile app, founded by a team who knows the condition intimately, aims to minimise the disruption it brings into your life. 

Unlike many other solutions that focus on hardware or management techniques, Oto harnesses the power of CBT, an approach proven more effective in reducing the awareness of tinnitus. By providing audio sessions varying from three to thirty minutes, Oto offers a mental toolkit to accept and habituate to the unique internal sounds.

Additionally, we offer a 1-1 program that pairs expert video coaching sessions, providing personalised support tailored to each individual's needs. From sleep aids to focus-enhancing sounds, Oto supplies various tools tailored for different aspects of daily life affected by tinnitus. Plus, we've designed our app to be simple and easy to use, putting the support you need right at your fingertips.

Learn from the best with regular webinars, engage in Q&As with the world's top tinnitus specialists, and even enjoy a free consultation with an expert who understands your condition. With Oto, you'll also get the chance to learn from other people's experiences with tinnitus through success stories available on our app.

Download the Oto app from the App Store or Google Play today and take the first step towards transforming your perception of tinnitus. You don't have to face this alone – let Oto support you every step of the way.


Head injuries can cause significant discomfort and distress, especially when associated symptoms like tinnitus persist. Understanding the relationship between tinnitus and head injuries, its duration and how to cope can help reduce the impact of this condition on your life. 

Remember, by learning to habituate to the sounds, you can notice your tinnitus less, gradually reducing its disruption to your everyday routine. Having the right support can make a world of difference on this journey. The Oto app is an example of this encouraging network, providing a platform that can guide you through the process of tuning out tinnitus. 

Why not explore how Oto can provide the help you need on your journey with tinnitus? Download the app today.


1. Folmer RL, Griest SE, Martin WH. (2015). Chronic tinnitus as a marker of cochlear damage in patients with noise-induced hearing loss. American Journal of Audiology. 24(2), 301-9.

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Discover how to tune out tinnitus with our free webinar

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