As we’ve discussed before, Tinnitus is the ringing/buzzing sound some of us frequently hear in one or both ears. While hearing loss is the most common cause of tinnitus, the sounds we hear can also be influenced by other parts of the body. When certain body movements or functions affect or cause our tinnitus, we call this phenomenon Somatic Tinnitus.
Most people experience Somatic Tinnitus as a result of movement or manipulation of different parts of the head and neck. Specifically, the more common sources are movement of the jaw, the temporomandibular joint, the muscles around the eyes, and the muscles in the neck.
Tinnitus that is caused by hearing loss is typically constant (though it can become more or less noticeable depending on the amount of noise around you). Somatic Tinnitus, on the other hand, is often times intermittent (is not constantly present), fluctuates in loudness, varies in location, and is diurnal (or only occurs at certain times of the day, such as right after waking up).
These are not mutually exclusive, though! Many folks experience the regular tinnitus that we talked about before, and will find that their tinnitus fluctuates as a result of jaw or head/neck movement.
The first step is always seeing an ENT physician and audiologist to determine if your tinnitus is caused by hearing loss, somatic influence, or both. From there, treatment depends on the source of the tinnitus, and many treatment options exist for the different causes of somatic tinnitus.