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Pashonette's avatar

Congested ear and crunching jaw?

Asked by Pashonette (7points) June 3rd, 2009

A few years ago the left side of my jaw at the joint started making this crunching noise (to me) and last year I noticed that when I lie on my left side my left ear gets plugged. Now it always feels somewhat congested. I have no allergy problems, pain or anything else going on. Why is it clogging when on my left side, how do I get it to stop (I hate going to the dr) and what is causing the crunching problem? Are they related?

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11 Answers

steve6's avatar

TMJ (temporal mandibular joint). Go to the dentist and he will probably form you a bite guard to prevent you from grinding your teeth at night while you sleep.

hearkat's avatar

Hi, I’m an Audiologist, and we often have people complaining of what feels like fullness in their ear that is actually radiating pain/pressure from the TMJ area. So I second @steve6‘s suggestion that you consult a dentist about your jaw.

Lupin's avatar

If you are in your late teens or early 20’s your wisdom teeth might be causing the TMJ. Next time you get your teeth cleaned tell the dentist and get Xrays.

Pashonette's avatar

No, I don’t have TMJ (although I have a friend who does have it), I don’t grind my teeth at night and my wisdom teeth were taken out 20yrs ago. My jaw only makes this noise whenever I open my mouth. Dentist has never said anyting is out of ordinary in my xrays. The pressure/fullness/congestion is directly in my ear. Nowhere else. Any other ideas?

shilolo's avatar

@Pashonette The x-rays your dentist has taken may not have included the temperomandibular joint. Thus, it might very well still be a joint issue. Alternatively, you might have an issue with your eustachian tube on that side, which perhaps is obstructed, or an issue within the inner ear itself. If you feel your dentist isn’t helping, an internist or otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose, Throat doctor) would be a good place to start.

hearkat's avatar

@Pashonette: As I said, we have a good number of patients who come in complaining of pressure and fullness in their ears, but when measured, their actual pressure is completely normal. It is a referred pain and it is very common. Also, not all people with TMJ problems are grinders.

@shilolo is correct that there may be some Eustachian tube issue; however, since you deny having allergies, sinus or nasal congestion, that is unlikely. Do you snore? Have you had your tonsils and/or adenoids removed?

Pashonette's avatar

I don’t snore and I still have my tonsils. Last time I was sick (cold, flu, etc) was too long ago to remember. I have wondered if it is OME.

hearkat's avatar

@Pashonette: You haven’t complained of hearing loss, which would occur with Otitis Media with Effusion (OME). Is your hearing decreased? If yes, is it a slight muffling or is it like your ear is plugged?

I know you say that you don’t like going to the Doctor, but neither shilolo or myself can diagnose you via the internet. The only way is for you to have your ears and jaw physically examined.

augustlan's avatar

I concur with TMJ. I’m not a grinder (much, anyway), but I have it. Get it checked out if it’s bothering you. For now, I just live with mine since it doesn’t yet hurt.

Pashonette's avatar

Yesterday morning I lost hearing in my left ear. This morning I went to the dr (gotta find out why I lost hearing) and he said the eardrum was blocked by ear wax and I had some in the other ear, so he flushed them both out (it took more than 5 mins for the left ear). I’m surprised no one here suggested my ear stuffiness could be from ear wax. Now I hear great and no more stuffy feeling. However, my hearing is a little out of balance (the left side is sharper). I’ll be glad when it’s balanced again. I asked the dr about the crunching noise and he said that was for the dentist. Someday I’ll go in for that.

hearkat's avatar

@Pashonette: Again, you never mentioned hearing loss, so that is why I did not suspect cerumen or Otitis Media. Had you offered a comprehensive list of your complaints, I’m sure that someone would have suggested wax buildup.

As I always tell my patients, I am glad that there was a “quick-fix” for your problem. If they flushed the ears with water, there may be some residual liquid in the Right ear. If it doesn’t seem better in a few days, you may want to get the hearing tested further.

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