A Link Between Migraines, Tinnitus & Hearing Loss

A Link Between Migraines, Tinnitus & Hearing Loss

In Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, Tinnitus Relief by Jack Felix, ACA, BC, HISLeave a Comment

Jack Felix, ACA, BC, HIS

Have you ever had a migraine? If you have, it’s likely you won’t forget the excruciating pain, the sensitivity to light and even sound? No one knows exactly what causes them however, researchers have found that those who suffer from migraines are also more likely to experience hearing loss and tinnitus.

Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

Hearing loss is a serious and permanent condition which occurs when there is a blockage in the ear canal or damage occurs to the tiny hair like cells of the inner ear. Hearing loss makes it hard to follow conversations, connect to others and often causes frustration, depression, anxiety, cognitive decline and increases the risk of accidents and falls. Tinitus is a sensation of ringing in the ears. While hearing loss and tinnitus are not exclusively connected, about 90 percent of people with tinnitus also have hearing loss. Tinnitus comes and goes in most cases however around 20 million people struggle with burdensome chronic tinnitus, while 2 million have extreme and debilitating cases which makes it hard to concentrate during the day and sleep at night, causing chronic stress, anxiety. Tinnitus is often an early symptom of hearing loss along with struggling to hear the people in your life and discrepancies with others about the volume of the TV. 

Understanding Migraines

according to the American Migraine Foundation, more than 37 million people experience migraines. While the term headache and migraine are often used interchangeably there are important differences between the two. While a headache causes pain in the head, face, or upper neck, migraines produce more extreme symptoms and are more of an ongoing headache disorder. Migraines are a neurological condition that involves symptoms including: 

  • Pulsating or throbbing pain
  • Nausea, vomiting 
  • Vison impairment 
  • Sensitivity to sound and/or light 
  • bright spots or flashing lights in your field of vison

It’s hard to know when a migraine will be triggered and how long it will last though they can last from 4 hours to days!

Connecting Migraines, Tinnitus, & Hearing Loss

Multiple studies have identified strong connections between migraines, tinnitus, and hearing loss including: 

Published in the American Journal of Otolaryngology, a study from Assiut University examined the relationship between hearing loss and migraines. By examining the cochlear function and auditory pathways for 58 patients the researchers identified that two-thirds of people who experienced migraines had one or more abnormalities in how the brain responds to sound. 

A separate study published in Otology & Neurotology focused on patients with hearing loss and tinnitus who also experienced Migraines. Researchers from the University of California Irvine assessed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey including roughly 13,000 people, ages 18-64. Of the 20.5% of this population who reported experiencing migraines, the researchers found that compared to people without migraine, participants with migraine were:

  • 2.1 times more likely to have tinnitus 
  • 1.2 times more likely to have hearing loss. 

The results of these studies have led experts to believe the connection between these conditions lie in the manner migraines constrict blood flow throughout the head –including circulation in the ears. This can damage the hair-like cells in the cochlea which send sound to the brain, causing permanent hearing loss. 

Treating Migraines & Ways to Protect Hearing Health

Keeping your migraines at a minimum is easier said than done but is important for avoiding further damage to your ears. There are multiple ways to keep migraines at bay including medications which target and alleviate symptoms during an attack and other more preventative medications.

Schedule a Hearing Exam Today!

If you are experiencing symptoms of hearing loss, it’s important to take symptoms seriously. Untreated hearing loss can affect your relationships, self-esteem, and sense of independence. Protect the quality of your relationships, your performance at work and your cognitive health by addressing a hearing loss. The first thing to do is schedule a hearing exam. Hearing exams help us to understand the extent of your hearing deficit and help us find the best solution to support you to hear better, wherever you go. If you experience regular migraines, then it’s reasonable to schedule regular hearing exams. Contact us today.

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