If you’ve ever experienced jaw pain, you know exactly how excruciating and frustrating it can be. And before you can resolve the pain, you need to be able to pinpoint exactly what is causing the issue. From earwax blockage to an ear infection to temporomandibular joint disorder, there are many reasons you may be experiencing jaw pain — and with similar symptoms, it can be hard to narrow down what may be causing your discomfort!
To help you get to the root of the issue, El Dorado Hearing is here with a breakdown of impacted earwax and TMJ and their overlapping symptoms so you can determine what is causing your jaw pain.
What Is Earwax & What Causes an Earwax Blockage?
Earwax is a waxy, yellowish substance that is a combination of dead skin cells, hair, and discharge lining your ear canal. Although usually earwax works itself through the ear canal from the movement of your jaw and flakes out of the ear, it can build up within the ear canal and create a blockage referred to as impacted earwax. With lubricating and antibacterial properties, earwax helps to protect your ear from water, infection, and injury.
Impacted earwax can result from excess earwax production or improper ear wax management. Frequently individuals attempt to clear out earwax with cotton swabs — but this can push the earwax deeper into the ear and cause a blockage. When left untreated, the individual often faces discomfort in their ear and jaw and may experience ringing in their ears, amongst other symptoms.
What Is TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint also referred to as TMJ, is one of the most common causes of ear and jaw pain. This joint is located close to the ear canal and middle ear and acts as a hinge, connecting the skull and jawbone. When it becomes irritated or inflamed, you may experience discomfort, jaw pain, and clicking and locking of the jaw.
Because the temporomandibular joint is located near the ear canal, ear pain is a common symptom of TMJ. This makes it easy for patients to misdiagnose themselves with ear infections or an earwax blockage instead of TMJ.
Overlapping Symptoms of Impacted Earwax & TMJ
Both impacted earwax and TMJ have overlapping ear-related symptoms which make it difficult for individuals to pinpoint precisely what the issue is, including:
- Ear pain
- Ringing in the ears
- Feeling of fullness in the ear
- Hearing loss
Although there are quite a few overlapping symptoms, you must know how to determine which condition is causing your jaw pain. Additional symptoms related to the impacted ear may include odor or discharge in the ear, an earache, or itchiness within the ear.
On the other hand, TMJ is more likely the diagnosis if:
- The jaw is clicking or making noise when opening and closing
- The discomfort is still there after scheduling earwax removal
- The symptoms intensify after jaw activity, such as eating or talking
By distinguishing the difference between the two conditions, the patient will more easily determine what is causing their discomfort.
How to Resolve an Earwax Blockage
Do you think you have substantial earwax buildup or earwax impaction? If so, we advise you not to try to tackle this at home on your own. Going after the wax with cotton swabs and tweezers could cause significant damage to your inner ear, an infection, or even loss of hearing.
Call our team at El Dorado Hearing to schedule a visit if you feel you are dealing with jaw pain because of excess ear wax. We’ll investigate your jaw pain problem, unplug your ears right away, and help you manage ear wax if the wax is the culprit.
Don’t let a simple problem with ear wax ruin even one more day. Contact El Dorado Hearing to learn more about our earwax management services.