Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge that connects your lower jaw to your skull. When you experience problems with your TMJ, it is known as TMJ disorder. While most of the symptoms of TMJ disorder have to do with the jaw, the ears can also be affected due to their close proximity. Below we review everything you need to know about TMJ-related hearing loss.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
Most commonly, the symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- Jaw pain.
- Difficulty chewing.
- Trouble opening the mouth all the way.
- Clicking or popping sounds in the jaw.
- Facial pain.
- Stiffness in the neck or shoulders.
However, you can sometimes experience ear-related problems like:
- Ear pain.
- Feeling of fullness in the ear.
- Hearing loss.
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
Causes of TMJ-Related Hearing Loss
While experts aren’t exactly sure how TMJ disorder causes hearing loss, it likely has to do with the proximity of the TMJ to the middle ear. More specifically, pressure or inflammation caused by TMJ disorder might affect the nerves and muscles in that area and possibly block the Eustachian tubes, causing fluid buildup.
Diagnosis of TMJ-Related Hearing Loss
Your health care provider may connect your TMJ disorder to your hearing loss if you’re experiencing symptoms of both.
In order to diagnose TMJ disorder, your provider will conduct a physical exam, take your medical history and order an X-ray scan.
In order to diagnose hearing loss, you may be referred to an audiologist at Hearing Healthcare Center, who can perform a variety of hearing tests that will reveal your exact type and degree of hearing loss.
Treatment for TMJ-Related Hearing Loss
It’s often the case that treating your TMJ disorder will alleviate any related ear problems. Your options include using a mouth guard or splint as well as going to physical therapy.
However, if you’re still experiencing hearing loss after your TMJ disorder is treated, you may need to wear hearing aids. These medical devices amplify sounds to a level your ears can detect, including in complex listening environments like your favorite local restaurant. To learn more about the relationship between TMJ disorder and hearing loss or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call Hearing Healthcare Center today.