There is one cause of hearing loss that is often overlooked: trouble with your temporomandibular joint.
What is the Temporomandibular Joint?The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge at which your upper and lower jaws meet. This joint allows for the movement of your lower jaw - open and close your mouth, chew, speak, move your jaw from side to side.
When the joint becomes irritated and inflamed, these tasks become difficult, even painful, causing temporomandibular disorder (TMD). There is no one specific cause of TMD. It may be the result of:
|•||Misaligned teeth or bite.|
|•||Arthritis (osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis).|
Symptoms of TMD often include facial pain, difficulty opening your mouth and trouble chewing. Hearing loss is also a symptom, but one most don't often attribute to the issue.
How TMD Affects EarsThe temporomandibular joint is located right below the ears, so location plays an important role. When your TMJ is swollen, that inflammation often has a direct impact on your ears, and pain from your joint can simply transfer to them. Inflammation can also affect your eustachian tubes, impeding the flow of fluids, which can then interfere with hearing.
Even the nerves around your TMJ can affect your hearing. Because of their proximity to one another, the nerves surrounding the ears can pick up on the pain signals from the joint, altering your hearing.
Hearing Related SymptomsA common symptom of TMD is earaches. The source of these earaches is often thought to be directly ear related, so you continue to suffer with pain even though you have seen a doctor. You may also experience tinnitus, or ringing in your ears. And, of course, your hearing itself may be affected.
If you have noticed a change in your hearing, check your other symptoms. If hearing loss is accompanied by facial pain and difficulty opening your mouth, it may be the cause of an issue with your TMJ. Contact our office to schedule an appointment.