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"Can an ear infection cause severe jaw pain when I chew?"

ZocdocAnswersCan an ear infection cause severe jaw pain when I chew?


I'd just like to start out by saying that my jaw has a history of popping while I chew. Recently I was diagnosed (not really the right use of the word) with an ear infection and I have been taking antibiotics (penicillin) for about a day and a half (I've taken 5 tablets so far, and I'm supposed to take one in the morning and one at night). So when I try to chew my jaw shoots extreme pain, and it really sucks. I have only been able to eat yogurt, and drink things. If I move my jaw down in the motion it would if I were chewing that is when the pain starts. I'm not sure if it's the ear infection, it did start when the ear infection started. Anyways, I'm not sure if it's the ear infection or the possible TMJ. I hate the feeling of not knowing, so I thought I'd ask here.


It is possible that you have two different conditions. For example, it sounds like you have a long standing history of your jaw popping when you chew, which is definitely not a symptoms of an ear problem! At the same time, your doctor recently diagnosed you with a likely ear infection. This can be complicated, because an ear infection can cause pain that radiates down into the jaw area. Typically this pain will get better as the infection goes away. What I would suggest, therefore, is that you go back to see your primary care doctor to make sure the ear infection is getting better. If so, once you have finished the antibiotics, if the pain is not better it may be time to investigate what is going on in your jaw to cause additional pain. You are correct that this may be temporo mandibular joint pain syndrome ("TMJ"), a chronic condition in which inflammation in the joint connecting the jaw to the skull causing pain with chewing and trouble opening the mouth completely. Usually, TMJ is treated collaboratively by your primary care doctor and a dentist, as many of the triggers for TMJ have to do with bad alignment of the teeth.

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