As always on Google Answers, I must remind you that our answers are
no substitute for proper medical care, and recommend that you discuss
this with your own medical provider.
That said, my first impression is that this IS tinnitus, just not the
garden variety type. You said it is not caused my muscle spams - did a
medical professional tell you this? From your short description, it
sounds as if it could indeed be palatal myoclonus, or objective
clicking tinnitus. . The objective form of palatal myoclonus is indeed
audible to others, and very rare. The middle ear muscles attached to
the ossicles (little bones) and/or the nasopharyngeal muscle
contracts, causing the ossicles to vibrate, and producing the sound.
This can be treated, if severe enough with muscle relaxants or botox
injections (still under investigative studies). It is very important
that you be evaluated by your doctor, especially since this occurs
bilaterally as opposed to unilaterally.
Objective clicking tinnitus can also be caused by TMJ
(temporal-mandibular joint) misalignment, and Menniere's disease.
Dr. Douglas Hoffman discusses palatal myoclonus in very basic
terms on this site at iVillage:
More on TMJ symptoms by Harvard's Medical School Dr. Peter Quinn who
says that the displacement of a small disk that serves to absorb
impact in the jaw, can cause popping and/or clicking, that may be
sudible to others, though not as loud as it is to the patient:
In an abstract I found on Medline, some people may find relief from
botox injections. (Botox is a toxin produced by the anaerobic
bacterium clostridium botulinum , and can cause severe and often fatal
food poisoning if ingested.) It is used to lessen wrinkles in the
skin, and as you can read on the sites below, is being studied for
it's uses in myoclonus and speech defects)
The National Institutes of Health (INH) is also running studies on
For more general information about palatal myoclonus :
Since the purpose of Google Answers is not to diagnose medical
problems, this answer simply implies what your ear clicking COULD be,
not what it IS.
There are other possiblities, a few of which I will mention here. A
complete compilation of possible causes of the clicking is beyond the
scope of this website. Anemia, medications, infection, brain tumor,
and vascular irregularities could all cause your problem. Finally, it
may not be a current infection, but remains of an old infection. If
you were to look in the ear canal with an otiscope, of a person who
has had serious ear infections, you can find what looks like jagged
boulders! (With the use of the magnifying otiscope of course). These
"boulders" are calcium "rocks" that form from infections. Pieces can
break off and cause loss of balance, along with other oddities, such
as ticking, clicking sounds!
Best of luck-crabcakes
"Did you hear about the medical student who read his textbook so
thoroughly that he came down with pages 14-105 !" Please take all the
information above as just that, information, and visit your doctor!