How Common Are Ear Symptoms in TMJ?
Most people with TMJ will experience ear-related symptoms. Some studies indicate that the overall frequency of symptoms could be as high as 80%. The occurrence of individual symptoms varies.
Ear pain, also called otalgia, is very common. This occurs in 55-64% of people with TMJ, depending on the study. Fullness is also very common in TMJ. Depending on the study, fullness rates range from 40-75% of people with TMJ. Hearing loss is generally considered the least common symptom linked to TMJ. Estimates of the occurrence of hearing loss in TMJ range from 20-40%.
What Causes These Symptoms?
How are these linked to TMJ? One link is proximity. The temporomandibular joint is right next to the ear. In fact, the inner ear is housed in the temporal bone, which is part of the joint. When the jaw joint is stressed, it can put pressure on the temporal bone, which could lead to symptoms of fullness and pain. Hearing loss might then be linked to narrowing of the canal.
Fullness, in particular, might be caused by the closure of the eustachian tubes, which help the body regulate air pressure. Hearing loss might be secondary to this fullness.
Another potential link is pressure on the nerves that run from the ear to the brain. This could easily cause pain, but depending on the pressure it might be interpreted as fullness.
Are Your Ear Symptoms Linked to TMJ?
So how can you tell if TMJ is actually responsible for your symptoms? Consider these three questions:
- Do I have other TMJ symptoms?
- Does jaw activity affect my symptoms?
- Can I explain symptoms in other ways?
Few people have just one symptom from TMJ. If you have TMJ, you likely have other symptoms, including jaw pain or dysfunction, headaches, or more.
If your ear symptoms are linked to TMJ, you probably notice that they occur in relation to your jaw activity. You might even be able to manifest them by moving your jaw certain ways. Sometimes, stress will mediate.
Also consider whether you have other potential causes. Pain, fullness, and hearing loss might be linked to an ear infection or to impacted wax, for example.
Treating Ear Symptoms in Fort Atkinson
If you suspect that your ear symptoms are linked to TMJ, we can help. Please call (920) 563-7323 today for an appointment at Bite Align. We help patients across Jefferson County from our office in Fort Atkinson.