For this article’s sake, I will call myself Sarah. I suffer from tinnitus, like many others, but found several ways on how I manage my tinnitus which has really helped me. I am writing this so that maybe what has helped me can possibly help others. I have done so much research to help me with this process that I came up with tons of different ideas, tips and tricks which really didn’t help at all.
I finally thought, maybe I need help on how I manage my tinnitus. That help started with going to an ENT Specialist first. An ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT) is a physician trained in the medical and surgical treatment of the ears, nose throat, and related structures of the head and neck. They have special expertise in managing diseases of the ears, nose and nasal passage sinuses, larynx (voice box), oral cavity and upper pharynx (mouth and throat), as well as structures of the neck and face. (source: entassociates.com)
I was a little hesitant on visitng an ENT Specialist, however, nothing else was working, so I thought why not. I thought my tinnitus was job related because I work in an atmosphere where LOUD noises are the norm, so naturally, I thought that was the reason for my tinnitus. The ENT Specialist conducted a very thorough test to check my hearing and my ear and concluded that my hearing was pretty good. Now, despite my hearing being very good, the doctor didn’t rule out my tinnitus could be caused my work environment.
As the doctor dug further, he was interested in possibly understanding any other underlying issues that may be causing my tinnitus so he started by asking me questions. Now these questions were not geared toward anything related to my ear, hearing, noises so I was not sure where this was going. He asked me questions like what time did I wake up, or what did I eat last night. So after about 5-10 minutes of questions, the doctor had a hypothesis. The doctor told me that my tinnitus is most likely due to TMJ, or temporomandibular joint dysfunction. Kind of shocked, and puzzeled, I told the doctor that my jaw was fine. In fact, I didn’t recall any jaw issues, until the doctor asked me some more specific questions. He asked questions about my jaw clicking or perhaps locking up at times. I told him that after thinking about it, it has happened on occasion. The doctor then started feeling my jawbone and as soon as he moved down a little I felt a great deal of pain. My first thought was this is not helping me in how I am going to manage my tinnitus. The doctor however revealed to me that the muscles were spasming and he bet anything that this is the reason for my tinnitus. He referred me to a specialist for TMJ and though I was a little annoyed I would have to visit someone else, I didn’t complain and decided to go see what this other specialist has to say. In part 2, I will discuss how that meeting went and how my tinnitus is today.