Tinnitus is a ringing, buzzing, clicking or roaring sound in the ears. While its severity varies, constant tinnitus can often lead to irritation, distraction, headaches, sleeplessness and more. While there are no known cures for tinnitus, establishing its cause can help manage its symptoms.
One possible cause of tinnitus is TMJ. TMJ is a type of temporomandibular disorder that causes pain in one or both of your temporomandibular joints—the joints that connect your jawbone to your skull. The disk in the joint on either side of your jaw allows you to open and close your mouth—such as when you chew or speak. When the joint is damaged, as with cases of TMJ, it can cause pain in the jaw and lead to ringing in the ears.
Knowing how to identify TMJ as the root cause of tinnitus will help inform your treatment. Let’s look at a couple of differences between tinnitus-related TMJ and non-TMJ tinnitus.
Identifying Tinnitus Caused by TMJ
Identifying whether TMJ causes your tinnitus is relatively simple—if you are not experiencing any symptoms of TMJ, your tinnitus is likely from a different source. The Mayo Clinic provides the following symptoms of TMJ:
- Regular jaw pain
- Difficulty chewing
- Pain while chewing
- Difficulty opening mouth all the way
- Pain in or around the ear
- Locking of the joint
- Clicking sound or grating feeling when opening your mouth
If you are experiencing jaw pain and tinnitus concurrently, consult a dentist to determine if you have TMJ.
A study on the impact and association of TMJ on tinnitus found stress to be a significant factor in symptom severity and the increased likelihood that both conditions occur simultaneously. While destressing may not cure either disorder, it can help manage the symptoms. Try taking a class at Black Swan Yoga or check out a local meditation group to help ease tension and destress. Other possible treatments for TMJ may include any combination of therapies and medication. Treatment of TMJ symptoms will likely result in lessening tinnitus severity.
Treating Non-TMJ Tinnitus
If you have ruled out TMJ as a possible cause, you can consider several treatments to help minimize the symptoms of tinnitus, including but not limited to:
- Hearing aids. Hearing aids can amplify external noises to help distract your brain from tinnitus noise.
- White noise machines. Tinnitus can interrupt sleep, leading to stress and fatigue. Using a white noise machine can help drown out the noise of tinnitus.
If you’re experiencing tinnitus symptoms, contact Hearing Systems today to speak to one of our trusted audiologists about symptom management.