After introducing the COVID vaccine, rumors and anecdotal evidence about the link between tinnitus and the vaccine circulated widely. Many patients became concerned about this possible side effect and hesitated to receive the vaccine.
Doctors and researchers have not found a link between the COVID vaccine and isolated cases of tinnitus. However, another common medical condition may cause similar and related symptoms. Temporomandibular joint syndrome, or TMJ, can contribute to tinnitus issues by increasing inflammation in the areas around the jaw joint, the ear, and the eardrums.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus happens when you can hear ringing or other noises in your ears. Other people cannot hear these noises. The condition can significantly impact your daily life, impacting concentration, sleep, and relaxation.
How Does Muscle Inflammation Cause Tinnitus?
The TMJ joint is close to the muscles that control hearing function. Tension from the TMJ joint area can easily affect the muscles in the ears. Inflammation in the muscles that pull the eardrums is a known cause of tinnitus.
The Connection Between Stress, Inflammation, and TMJ
Stress is a known factor that worsens TMJ symptoms. As patients experience stress, they frequently experience muscle tension and may clench or grind their teeth. These repetitive motions strain the temporomandibular joint and surrounding muscles, causing inflammation.
Muscle tension from stress can develop into TMJ in some patients. This problem becomes a feedback loop, where tension causes TMJ symptoms. In turn, the TMJ symptoms cause more facial and muscle tension, including the muscles inside the ear that cause tinnitus.
Anxiety can also produce stress responses in the human body that could lead to inflammation, causing both TMJ and tinnitus. Many patients may feel severe anxiety about side effects after receiving a COVID vaccination, possibly accounting for a small bump in tinnitus cases in the following days and weeks.
Laser Treatments to Reduce Inflammation
No matter the cause of tinnitus, it is a debilitating health condition that can alter a patient's life. They may be unable to sleep, relax, or think clearly due to the perceived sound. Fortunately, patients can receive treatment for inflammation and stress-related tinnitus.
San Francisco Dental Wellness uses a type of cold laser called an MLS laser. This laser creates low-energy light that reduces inflammation in the muscles that cause TMJ and tinnitus. Medical research points to the advantages of this non-invasive, non-drug treatment for joint inflammation.
Call San Francisco Dental Wellness
Researchers have not found a definitive link that connects increased instances of tinnitus with the COVID vaccine, but the problem persists. However, we notice that a lot of patients that have tinnitus after the COVID vaccines tend to have a higher prevalence with pre-existing TMJ issues. Treating patients with TMJ disorders will potentially help with the tinnitus severity and it can alleviate a lot of discomfort coming from the ringings in the ears .
Call San Francisco Dental Wellness at 415-781-1944 to learn how Dr. Chui can help you reduce your TMJ and tinnitus symptoms and regain your quality of life. Dr. Chui is the clinical director at the San Francisco VA Center who treats numerous patients with TMJ disorders.