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The Doctors Lounge - Primary Care Answers

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Forum Name: Ear Nose and Throat

Question: Laying on Lt. side, my ear gets full and disrupts hearing

sarkin - Thu Jan 04, 2007 3:00 pm

This has been happening for approx. 7 years. Hx. of TMJ disorder (I have a splint that I wear at night. My TMJ doctor couldn't identify why this happens), C5-C6 fusion w/ current C6-C7 degeneration. I am in P. T. for pain, muscle spasms, and lots of soft tissue tightness in the neck.

I have a hard lump in front of my left ear, slightly below and anterior to my TM joint. I also have a pea sized lump on my left mastoid, hard/fixed.

My left ear is always full, & I have tinnitus. I feel like I can pop it open by opening my mouth, but it just makes a low pop noise and feels the same. When I lay on my left for sleeping, I wake up and it feels really full, and my hearing is affected. This resolves approx. 30 minutes after waking.

This is driving me crazy! Please, any advice would be helpful.

If it something that can be diagnosed and treated, who should I see? ENT, primary, etc...

Thank you for your help.
Dr. Safaa Mahmoud - Sat Jan 06, 2007 12:02 am


Your symptoms are very suggestive of Temporomandibuilar Joints dysfunction:
In this conditions symptoms include:
Click, pop, and snap, sounds usually occur with pain in TMD
Neck, shoulder, or Back pain
Ear aches
Clenching teeth
Pain behind the eyes
Parasthesia of the fingers

Asymmetry, muscle hypertrophy on the affected side van be easily seen. This could be why you think you have swellings in this area. Also depressions in the joint may make asymmetry looking.

The causes of TMD is multifactorial. Stress and psychological factors are involved.

The most common cause related to joint or bone problems is anterior disc displacement.
Disease that affect joints like RA, ankylosis, OA, should be excluded.

TMJ-related pain is usually cyclic and recurrent.
Why you have symptoms when you sleep on the affected side could be a nighttime clenching.

You have to use good posture although a sleeping behavior is hard to control.

Keep us updated.
Dr. Tino Anthony Solomon - Thu Jan 25, 2007 8:27 pm

Hello there,

To answer your last question, you should seek an appointment with a maxillofacial specialist.

Kind regards,

Dr Tino Solomon
BSc(Hons) MBBS
Senior House Officer in Surgery

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