Hearing loss is often caused by exposure to excessive loud noise or age. But did you know that a problem with your jaw can also affect your hearing? Although you may not associate your jaws with your hearing, the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull is located very close to your hears. This is called the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ for short. TMJ disorder can cause pain in your jaw joints, difficulty chewing and locking of the joints. In some cases, TMJ disorder can even lead to hearing loss.
TMJ disorder is not an obvious cause of hearing loss, so many people struggle without knowing the cause until they are told by a medical professional. Continue reading to learn more about TMJ disorder and its connection to hearing loss.
The temporomandibular joints are located on either side of your face and assist in movements like chewing and speaking. They are located just in front of your ears and sit right behind a major nerve in the face. Most people’s jaws are able to slip back and forth with no problem, but people with acute TMJ disorder may occasionally have difficulties with closing their mouths. On the other hand, chronic TMJ disorder is much more serious and can eventually cause permanent damage to the temporomandibular joints.
Minor discomfort in the temporomandibular joints will usually go away on its own. However, some symptoms may require further evaluation to avoid issues in the future. These symptoms include:
• Constant episodes of pain at the joint or around the ear
• Pain while chewing
• Clicking noises from the jaw that can be heard while chewing
• Chronic, aching pain in various parts of the face
• Feeling the joints “lock”
TMJ disorder occurs when the muscles around your temporomandibular joint become inflamed or irritated. Because the temporomandibular joint is located so close to the ear, inflammation in these muscles can block the Eustachian tubes and make it more difficult to hear. Without treatment, more severe hearing problems and ear damage may happen.
Most pain and discomfort from TMJ disorder can be managed on your own. Treatment options include applying cold/heat packs onto areas of pain, eating softer foods and taking pain relief medications. You can also look into wearing a mouthpiece while sleeping or getting dental work to correct your bite. If self-treatments do not work, you may have to consider getting a TMJ surgery.
A doctor or dentist can typically point out TMJ disorder during an examination. You can also turn to an audiologist if your hearing is affected. Hearing loss caused by TMJ disorder does not appear as a typical ear condition, so your audiologist can confirm that the problem is not coming from the ears. Schedule a free appointment with a professional from Miracle-Ear to find out what’s causing your hearing loss.
If you are experiencing hearing loss, our team can help you identify the problem and offer hearing solutions that work best for you. Find a Miracle-Ear hearing center near you to get the personalized hearing help you need.