Hello. Tinnitus Possibly Somehow Related to Anatomy of Outer Ear, Jaw, Muscles or Something?

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Hmmmmm, Nov 7, 2019.

    1. Hmmmmm

      Hmmmmm Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown, but possibly to do with jaw/temporal anatomy?
      Hi there; I decided to sign up to this forum, having been lurking for the past few weeks. Just reading the various posts, even when the types of tinnitus described are different to mine, has been a comfort.

      My tinnitus started in early September of this year, so about nine weeks ago. It is in one ear only, as far as I can tell (right ear). It is a quite high pitched ringing. It is pretty mild, judging by the descriptions of what some people sadly have to suffer. The volume is not all that high, and it is quite easy to mask. I only really hear it in quiet rooms. When I’m outside, I don’t hear it unless I’m in a really quiet place in the countryside or something like that. TV, music, white noise, traffic, being on public transport, background noise in cafe, pub etc. will all mask it, thankfully (I know I am lucky in this).

      There was no obvious trigger, but it did start at around the time I was about to leave my job; the reason I was leaving my job being that it massively stressed me out. So I thought that stress could possibly be the cause. I also had started working from home more in the months leading up to leaving the job, so another thought was that it could be the difference in noise levels. I previously worked in an open plan office, albeit not a particularly loud one, but the air con/heating would always make some noise whereas my house is pretty quiet.

      Another possible cause was noise cancelling earphones. I had been using them almost every day for about a year, from maybe 5.30am to 8am, because I get trains going past the back of my house every now and then, and the low frequency rumbling would wake me up at around 5-6am pretty much every morning. I discovered, to my great happiness, that putting the noise cancelling aspect on (with no music playing) pretty much quietened the low frequency sound enough so that I could go back to sleep once I’d put the earphones on. I didn’t wear them all night, I would just put them on at around 5am. They were in-ear Bose ones, as opposed to the big headphones, as obviously the latter would be difficult to sleep with on my head. I mostly slept on my back when I had the earphones in, although I found that I could pile up a couple of pillows, create a gap between them and the mattress, and position my ear in the gap so that I could sleep on my side (which I prefer ).

      I did worry a bit that playing the noise cancelling alone, no music, every day for a few hours, might somehow be bad. Physics-wise this doesn’t seem to be a particular red flag, but you never know, I guess. It’s playing sound waves into your ear, although apparently they cancel other sound waves out, but the fact that my bedroom was v quiet except for the occasional train going past (say once every half hour, from 5am onwards in the morning) made me think that maybe the earphones trying to cancel non-existent noises, in silence, might somehow be bad.

      Anyway, it was all fine for just over a year. But then the tinnitus started. I mostly stopped using those earphones after that, in case they were the cause. But there has been no improvement in the tinnitus (not that I would necessarily expect there to be if the damage had already been done). I’ve looked online about noise cancelling earphones and the general consensus seems to be that they should be safe, but as I say, I was using them in a slightly different way to intended, so you never know. I have also read the occasional account from someone whom attributes their tinnitus to noise cancelling headphones. So I don’t really know what to believe about these things.

      Something that I have noticed, however, is that the ringing pretty much goes away when I press down on part of my outer ear; the bit just above the tragus. It may therefore be that there’s a physiological issue in outer part of the ear, or in one of the muscles nearby. Possibly the temporal muscle, although I’m not sure whether that’s close to that area? It’s quite difficult to find anatomical diagrams online dealing with the outer ear as opposed to the inner ear.

      So maybe it’s something almost TMJ-like, or the other possibility is that the in-ear phones (which go a bit further into the ear canal than some) might have somehow squished part of the outer ear anatomy? I do remember waking up once or twice having slept on that side with that ear pushing against the mattress, with the ear phone presumably pressing on the ear harder than it otherwise would. I don’t quite see how it could be that though, as it was hardly a really strong force pressing on the ear.

      Anyway, I’m going to see my GP tomorrow re: the tinnitus. I guess I’ll tell her about the pressing on the outer ear making it quieter/almost disappear, and see what she reckons. It’s not impacted ear wax btw, as I went to a Boots audiology person a couple of weeks ago and she looked in my ears with the camera and there was basically no wax in them (hopefully that in itself is not somehow a problem?!).

      In the meantime, thanks for all of the posts that you have all made on this forum, because they really have helped me over these past few weeks. I think it’s knowing that other people are going through similar distressing things as you - and again, please know that I am fully aware that what I am ‘going through’ is nothing compared to what some of you are going through; I really am conscious of that. Also, just getting lots more info about the condition helps make things feel a bit better. Again, I can’t compare my situation to some of those that I have read on here, but it does nevertheless upset me that I have this noise where I didn’t before.

      Well this turned into a massive, rambling essay. If you made it this far, then thanks for reading. I guess I’ll update in the event that it turns out that this is a physiological outer ear-type thing that somehow is possible to solve (which I really hope it is). Just thought I’d put all of this down on paper (or screen).
    2. oceanofsound26

      oceanofsound26 Member

      Delaware, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      TMJ, Neck Issues, and Accompanying Postural Deviations.
      In reference to your jaw issues, the tragus is just behind the TM joint. Muscles in that area will be the temporalis, masseter, and lateral pterygoid. All of these work together when it comes to chewing. Tinnitus from TMJ can be unilateral on the side that is affected. Try massaging your masseter and temporalis muscles frequently thruout the day, practice some deep breathing or meditation daily, and look into lateral pterygoid release methods (be very careful and gentle with these). Also switching to soft foods may be a good idea as well for a little bit to see if it helps your jaw problems and tinnitus. If you grind and clench your teeth due to stress, can provide some tips to help with this as well.

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