The first time you ever experienced ringing in your ears was probably when you were a youngster. Maybe your parents took you to a fireworks show. Maybe you went to a loud concert. Indeed, short-term exposure to elevated noise levels can be a cause of tinnitus (the medical term for ringing in the ears), and it typically goes away after a day or two. In this case, it’s a little annoying, but not that big a deal.
But if you find yourself as an adult experiencing a more chronic or intense form of tinnitus, it can be a very big deal. Sometimes the ringing is more of a buzzing or some other sort of noise. Sometimes tinnitus can come and go. Or tinnitus can be with you all the time.
Whatever the form, the ringing or noises can be so loud and distracting that you can’t hear what people are saying to you. You can have difficulty concentrating. Your school or professional work suffers. You can get so frustrated or depressed that you withdraw from life. The frustration can grow worse because tinnitus can have a variety of causes, and it can be hard to determine which one it is.
After all, tinnitus itself isn’t a medical condition. It’s symptomatic of a condition. Some of the conditions include:
- exposure to loud noises
- excessive earwax
- presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss
- otosclerosis, a disorder causing bone growth in the ear
- Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorders
This last one is what concerns us here at BC Head Pain Institute. The Temporomandibular Joint connects the lower jaw to the skull; it’s what allows you to bite up and down, thrust the jaw forward, or move it from side to side. In other words, this joint is a mechanically complicated area of the body, and it can become imbalanced. One possible outcome of imbalanced forces is tinnitus or a persistent ringing in your ears.
Our treatment begins with an individualized analysis of your bite to understand the different forces at work in your mouth and jaw. If we find irregularities, we know we are probably getting close to the cause of your tinnitus. To correct imbalances, we use laser therapy, trigger-point manipulation, ultrasound, and other techniques, but we don’t use drugs or anything invasive. Our therapies run over a series of sessions, and when the sessions are over, our patients are amazed at how well they can hear again and are so grateful to us that the horrible noises in their heads have finally ceased.