Do you have TMJ disorder and your ear rings on one side or both sides? what does that mean? Can TMJ cause tinnitus? Is there any relation between TMJ disorder and tinnitus or ear ringing? What does it mean when you have headache associated to ringing in your ears?
In this post, Dr. Khalifeh will answer all the above questions and more. He will explain the relation between TMJ disorder (TMD) and annoying ear sounds such as hissing, buzzing, crunching, ringing, pulsating, roaring and clicking sounds.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is when you hear sound in one or both ears that is not caused by external sound and nobody else can hear it. It is more common in older people affecting 15% – 20% of the population. However, tinnitus is not a disease by itself, it is a symptom of an underlying disease or condition.
What are the Most Common Causes of Tinnitus?
These are the most common causes of tinnitus:
- Ear infection
- Hearing loss
- Injury to the head and neck
- Medications such as NSAIDs, some antibiotics, chemotherapy, antimalaria drugs, antidiuretics, etc.
- Problems in the ear muscles, bones and ear structure.
- Head and neck tumors
- TMJ disorder
- Vascular disorders such as high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.
- Chronic diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid problems, autoimmune diseases, etc.
- Meniere’s disease
What are the Risk Factors for Tinnitus?
These are the risk factors for tinnitus:
- Sex, men are more likely to get tinnitus
- Exposure to loud sound
- Health problems like arthritis, diabetes, TMJ disorder, cardiovascular conditions, stc.
What is TMJ Tinnitus?
Temporomandibular joint tinnitus is when you have noise in your ears caused by TMJ disorder. TMJ tinnitus usually resolve with the treatment of your TMJ disorder. Headache and ringing in the ears are common symptoms of TMJ dysfunction. To know if your tinnitus is caused by TMJ, changing the position of your jaw will more likely change the volume or pitch of your ear sound.
Can TMJ Cause Tinnitus?
The short answer to this question is, yes! TMJ can cause tinnitus. The TMJ is located just in front of the ear and share some nerve supply with ear. Inflammation and pain in the TMJ may alter the ear structure and the hearing perception causing abnormal sound hearing that does not exist. TMJ disc dysfunction may also cause clicking or crunchy sound that you and other people around you can hear.
An interesting fact is that ear ringing may be the only TMJ symptom you have. The good news is that TMJ tinnitus is treatable and will go away following proper TMJ treatment. However, studies found that patients with TMJ disorders are 3 times more likely to have ear ringing. On the other hand, people with TMJ headache are 6 times more likely to experience tinnitus.
How TMJ Tinnitus Treated?
As mentioned earlier, tinnitus is not a disease by itself. It is a symptom of a disease. Treatment of the underlying condition will fix the tinnitus problem. TMJ tinnitus is treated using common TMJ treatment protocol explained in previous post. Physical therapy, Night guards, ultrasound, Low level Laser Therapy(LLLT) and TMJ surgery are some treatment modalities for TMJ disorder that help fix TMJ tinnitus.