My Ear Feels Weird
September 27, 2011 9:43 PM Subscribe
My odd, chronic jaw & ear symptoms are growing ever more uncomfortable and crazy-making. The specialists I've seen are stumped. I'm hoping the AskMe-verse might have heard of this, or can offer some suggestions, advice, or support.
posted by granted to health & fitness (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
(Asking for a friend.)
The Symptoms: I've had this problem off and on for years, but it's gotten particularly annoying lately, and I'm going a little nuts. Basically, my left ear (and only the left) feels "clogged" or "full" on a regular basis, like it's filled with water (though it's perfectly clear of wax and fluid in reality). It rarely hurts, but if the feeling lasts a particularly long time in a given day, I do get a dull ache or a headache. I also find that it's difficult to hear when the ear is full, and it's especially annoying to speak, because my own voice echoes. It seems to occur during certain hours of the day--especially when I have an important meeting at work (of course!). It used to happen mainly in the morning, but now has crept more into the afternoon, and lasts for a period of a few hours. It rarely happens at night.
I can make the "full" or "clogged" feeling go away by tugging on my earlobe, massaging/pushing the muscles directly under my left ear (near the top of my jaw) or using my shoulder to rub the muscles under my left ear (by cocking my neck to the left side). Of course, these behaviors look bizarre to a room full of business people who have no idea why I'm twitching like this, and I'm not even sure how to explain what's going on to anyone who might have the balls to ask. In addition, cocking my head to the side all the time has started to take a toll on my neck muscles.
As for what I've tried: I've been to two TMJ specialists, both of whom were pretty unhelpful. One made me a splint, which I've worn almost every single night for nearly three years (and sometimes during the day). I can't tell if it's helping in general, but regardless, my ear is worse than ever now. I definitely clench my teeth at night because I've worn down the splint a lot (I got it replaced a few months ago). Otherwise, I have no other TMJ symptoms.
I've also been to two ENTs, both of whom thought I was crazy. I passed their hearing and pressure tests with no problems; they said my ears look perfect. Some doctors are convinced it's TMJ-related; one thought it might be the result of getting hit in the left ear with a basketball at age 7; and yet another thought it might be some bizarre, unexplainable neurological issue.
I'm willing to considering physical therapy or other alternative forms of medicine, but I don't want to waste my money either. I chew gum during the day because it seems to help in the moment, but I suspect it's actually bad in the long run (assuming this is jaw related).
I'd love to find out if anyone has heard of this problem and whether they've successfully mitigated it in any way. Even just temporary relief (or decreasing the number of hours in the day it occurs) would be a wonderful thing. I'm fairly desperate and really hoping there's some treatment out there for me. Also, if anyone has any suggestions for specific treatment options in the NYC area, that would be fantastic (the previous specialists I visited were all in the SF Bay Area).
Thanks so much for your help!!