Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge between the temporal bone and the lower jaw. When you experience dysfunction of the TMJ, it is known as TMJ disorder. Because the TMJ is located so close to the ears, it can affect their function as well, causing symptoms such as pain, tinnitus and hearing loss. We review more about this connection below.
Symptoms of TMJ-Related Hearing Loss
Usually, TMJ disorder symptoms include:
- Clicking or popping sounds in the jaw
- Difficulty chewing
- Jaw pain
- Facial pain
- Pain or stiffness in the neck and shoulders
More rarely, TMJ disorder can cause symptoms with the ears, such as:
- Feeling of fullness
- Muffled hearing
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Hearing loss
Causes of TMJ-Related Hearing Loss
Unfortunately, experts aren’t exactly sure how or why dysfunction of the jaw can cause hearing loss. Some hypothesize symptoms may be due to the disorder affecting the Eustachian tubes, rendering them unable to properly drain fluid from the middle ear.
Diagnosing TMJ-Related Hearing Loss
If you exhibit the symptoms of both TMJ disorder and hearing loss, your provider may connect the two conditions.
TMJ disorder is diagnosed following a physical examination and taking a medical history. Your provider may also order X-rays to confirm the diagnosis.
Hearing loss is diagnosed with a series of objective tests, including pure tone audiometry, speech testing, tympanometry, auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing and otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) testing.
Treating TMJ-Related Hearing Loss
According to one study, treatment for TMJ disorder is highly effective for addressing associated hearing problems. Options include wearing a mouth guard, splint or other type of oral appliance. Physical therapy may also be recommended.
If you’re still experiencing hearing loss after addressing your TMJ disorder, you may need to wear hearing aids, which are the gold standard treatment of most cases of hearing loss. Hearing aids are medical devices that work by amplifying sounds to a level the ears can easily detect. There are many styles available, some of which are highly discreet, and most boast amazing features that can help you hear well in complex listening environments like The Crab Stop.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call Aaron's Hearing Aid & Audiology Center today.