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Dr. Andrew Rynne
MD
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Is swollen glands and ear infection sign of TMJ?

For 3-4 weeks I have had noticeable swollen glands. This is fairly common for me but it is not going away rather it is getting progressively worse. They are swollen on the right side of my neck and feel like it radiates down into my chest, one place in my neck in particular is hard and I have had that for years, also lately under my chin/jawline, behind my right ear/under right ear, under the right part of my tongue , my temperature is 98.0F but I feel cold and shivery like I have a fever, and just starting today I have felt a bruised feeling tenderness under my left arm and along the same upper left side. I am also concerned about a throbbing in my right temple that I have had for years (drs say it is nothing) lately with all this feeling ill it feels bruised to the touch. I also am having pressure in my head and get out of breath easily when I bend over, climb stairs or exert myself.

Ear history ... Severe ear infection with bleeding when I was about 4 so I had tubes in both ears, swimmers ear around 12 years old, several episodes of vertigo over the last 10 years, chronic right ear pain (stabbing at times, aching at other times, sometimes there is a crackle sound but nearly always present one way or another) that doctors cannot seem to see when they look in my ears. They usually say, "They look fine, no redness etc". I did have vertigo tests done about 10 years ago (cold/warm air blown in them) which did induce vertigo. I was initially told I had minears disease then the next time I went years later was told that I didn't have that and the doctors said "I was fine". I have loss of hearing in my right ear and cannot tell directions of sounds - invariably I think the sound is coming from the opposite direction. I went to the doctor a couple of years after that complaining of more hearing loss in the right ear and they did a hearing test and said ... my hearing had gotten BETTER! haha Needless to say ... I feel like I'M not being heard lol.

Gland history ... tonsils out at the same time tubes were put in when I was 4 years old. Chronic swollen glands ... if I get so much as a cold they swell. EBV 4 times ... 3 EBV tests showed positive the 4th time I just assumed because of symptoms - each time it feels worse. The last time I had mono I was truly afraid I would die I felt so bad. Every time my ear pain hurts more than usual my glands swell - mostly on the right side. And I do have a hard place on the right side of my neck that feels like it is either on the vein or on a gland so close to a vein that I can't tell the difference. When I feel for my pulse in my neck it feels as if the hard place is throbbing. And lastly, I've never suffered from sinus problems but last year I had an episode so bad that I almost went to the hospital. The pain was intense and didn't ease with warm compresses, rest or ibuprofen. The following day I went to a doctor who gave me some anti-biotics and that seemed to take care of most of it - though I'm not sure it ever fully went away I think it just lessened and I got used to it.

I feel very very unwell and am worried. I do not have the money to go to a doctor as we do not have insurance. I am hoping that I will find some solutions here. I am hoping it is simply mono again or an infection from my ear or sinus that will go away with rest and vitamins and not some of the awful things I have read online. My father did die of leukemia and my grandmother had Binswangers for the year before she died on lung cancer ... so I'm always a little scared of those :-) I'm sure you can understand.

I have been labeled a hypochondriac by one doctor and offered Xanax, told I had MS by an ENT doctor (yes an ENT honestly said that to me), and have been given diagnoses by others only to have them turn around the next visit and say no it's just TMJ ($99 out of pocket for that one haha) or something as easily catch-all. Being sick in this day and age can be very frustrating.
Thu, 12 Jun 2014
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Dentist 's  Response
Hello,
With the amount of discomfort and stress you are suffering from, you may clench or grind your teeth causing a TMJ disorder. Your headaches, some ear symptoms and muscle inflammation with tenderness can be a sign of this. Gland involvement is not a typical symptom. You should see your physician especially with your medical history and prior viral conditions. Viruses do reoccur. Vascular and nerve disorders also need to be considered with the wide spread and radiating description.
You can purchase an occlusal guard at your local pharmacy. Try this to see if it relieves any of your symptoms, but do not expect this to solve all issues.
Joint damage or infection would need further doctor evaluation and tests. An oral surgeon could evaluate with an initial panorex x-ray, and possibly recommend a CT scan and/or MRI. Antibiotics would need a prescription and a visit to your doctor. Blood work and additional testing would help your diagnosis.
You are correct to keep a healthy diet, proper vitamins to avoid deficiencies, keep well hydrated and a softer diet to help rest your joint and muscles. Warm salt water rinses, moist heat and anti-inflammatory medications may offer relief as well. Please try to visit a doctor or clinic when you ar able. Your symptoms may progess and could indicate a serious problem.
Thank you for your inquiry. I hope this is helpful and you will be able to seek further care soon.
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