Migraines May Increase The Risk Of Hearing Loss
People with migraines are more likely to have lowered otoacoustic emissions and auditory brainstem responses , which are early indicators of impending auditory dysfunction that can lead to hearing loss, the study shows. In addition, nearly two-thirds of the migraine patients had one or more abnormality in auditory electrophysiological testing, despite almost all of them being classified as having a normal hearing level. Auditory dysfunction symptoms such as phonophobia and tinnitus were present in 20.7% and 13.8% of individuals, respectively. Compared with a control group, migraine patients had significantly lower amplitudes of transient evoked OAE at frequencies of 1 kHz, 3 kHz, and 4 kHz.
Migraines And Hearing Loss
So what does a neurological disease have to do with your hearing? Plenty, according to a study by researchers in Egypts Assiut University Hospitals Department of Neurology and Psychology. Their findings were published in the July-August 2012 issue of the American Journal of Otolaryngology.
Using electrophysiological testing, they looked at the function of the cochlea and auditory pathways of migraineurs compared to those who did not have the disease and discovered that two-thirds of the migraineurs had one or more abnormalities. Testing included the otoacoustic emissions test , which measures the echo produced by the vibrations of hair cells in the cochlea when its stimulated, and the auditory brainstem response test, which measures the brains response to sound. The researchers hypothesize these abnormalities could be a result of compromised blood supply to the auditory system due to the migraine attacks.
This is significant because the sensory hair cells in the cochlea depend on healthy circulation to function properly. A decrease in circulation could eventually cause these hair cells to become damaged or die, causing sensorineural hearing loss.
Can Migraine Cause Hearing Problems
Migraine doesnt cause hearing loss, says Rajneesh. Some of the common hearing-loss problems are associated with migraine, but we dont know the nature of the association, he says.
Its unclear if one condition leads to the other or if they coexist, he says, adding that there is evidence to suggest that people with hearing loss tend to have more migraine attacks. But, he notes, We dont have enough big studies to determine the relationship.
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How Is Diagnosis Made
If referred to a specialist by your GP, a diagnosis of your condition will be made based on your medical history, answers to questions about when and where the symptoms occur, and a physical examination.
Your doctor may order various tests to rule out other balance disorders. These may include scans or specific tests of the balance portion of the inner ear and brain.
Vestibular Migraine And Hearing Problems
The type of migraine known as vestibular migraine originates in the part of the inner ear and brain that is responsible for balance, says Rajneesh. In that type of migraine, youre going to get some motion sickness, dizziness, and maybe some hearing changes during the attack, which could include fluctuating changes decreased hearing or hypersensitivity and tinnitus, he says.
Tinnitus is most often described as a ringing in the ears, but it can also be experienced as roaring, clicking, hissing, or buzzing. The perceived sound can be soft or loud, high-pitched or low-pitched, and it can be present in one or both ears, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. People who have hearing problems also tend to have tinnitus, says Rajneesh.
If you have tinnitus, its a good idea to talk with a neurologist or primary care doctor to find out if this is a hearing issue or if this is coming from the brain. Depending on the underlying cause, the treatments are different, he says. If the tinnitus is related to migraine, then treating the migraine may improve it.
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Central Sensitization In Migraines And Tinnitus
In migraines, scientists believe that pain fibers that originate from the trigeminal nerve, which is the largest cranial nerve, release inflammatory peptides like substance P and calcitonin gene-related peptide . These peptides could cause the throbbing pain associated with a migraine.
After repeated migraine attacks, central sensitization may occur, which could be the trigger for the development of tinnitus. On the other hand, it could be that tinnitus in one ear sensitizes the trigeminal nerve system, resulting in migraines on that same side of the head.
It’s hard to know for sure at this point, although research shows that headaches tend to precede tinnitus, so the first theory may be more plausible. Or there could be a totally different factor that we don’t know about yet that’s triggering both the migraines and tinnitus.
All in all, experts aren’t sure yet why there’s a connection between migraine and tinnitus. Regardless, research suggests the combined occurrence of head pain and ear ringing likely has a biological basis. In other words, it’s not just a coincidence.
Audiological Findings In Patients With Vestibular Migraine And Migraine: History Of Migraine May Be A Cause Of Low
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Who Gets Vestibular Migraines
Migraines can affect anyone but are more common in females than males. Migraines also have a tendency to run in families. Some patients report that their migraines are triggered by:
- hormonal changes e.g. menstruation or menopause
- quick movements of the head or body
- being in a crowded or confusing place
- driving or riding in a vehicle
- watching movement around you eg on TV.
The Link Between Migraines And Hearing Problems
If you experience migraine headaches, research shows you may be at greater risk for developing hearing problems. Scientific research has yet to establish that migraines cause hearing problems. It has, however, found a higher incidence of inner ear-related hearing loss among individuals with a history of migraines.
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Whats The Link Between Migraines And Hearing Loss
While migraines can be problematic on their own, the real concern with these trigger migraines is the additional effects they can cause. According to a study by the Assiut University Department of Neurology and Psychology in Egypt, migraine is a neurological disease that can have a direct impact on your ability to hear. Through extensive testing, their researchers have found that migraines can directly impact the brains response to sound over time. This may be because of a lack of blood flow, as a result of how migraines affect the functionality of the brain.
A hemiplegic migraine is a type of headache within the migraine family that may be more likely to lead to these hearing issues. As one of the more severe migraines, visual disturbances, and even paralysis can result from this condition. Unlike regular migraines, these migraines can be incredibly debilitating physically. Its this severity that may lead to further complications, such as hearing loss, further down the line.
Compromised Blood Supply To Auditory System
According to a study conducted by researchers at Assiut University Hospital in Egypt, there is a correlation between migraines and hearing loss. Out of 58 migraine sufferers, two-thirds had one or more abnormalities with their cochlea function and auditory pathways. Researchers need to conduct more studies to determine exactly how migraines can cause hearing loss. However, these particular researchers hypothesized that the abnormalities could be a result of compromised blood supply to the auditory system during migraine attacks.
Other researchers support these claims. According to a study published by JAMA Neurology, migraines can damage the small hairs in the inner ear. These hairs convert sound vibrations into electrical signals sent to the brain. If the hairs dont receive an adequate supply of blood, they can eventually become damaged and die. During a migraine, a vasospasm of the labyrinthine arteries can cut off the supply of blood to the auditory system. This can lead to gradual, yet permanent hearing loss.
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Do You Have Migraines
Migraines often start with a few warning signs. These mental and physical signs include mood changes, sudden fatigue, sore muscles, nausea, or even a visual aura. Soon after, migraine pain sets in. This is a severe form of headache, and you may experience throbbing or pulsing pain in your head, along with sensitivity to light and sound.
Sometimes it can be hard to tell if youre having a headache or a migraine. In both headaches and migraines, youll experience pain in your head. Usually, headaches are milder, and the pain may be a dull ache. Migraines, on the other hand, are more severe, including throbbing pain and other symptoms such as dizziness or nausea.
Laterality And Severity Seem To Correlate
Another study sought to further understand the relationship between migraine and tinnitus by looking at nearly 200 participants with tinnitus and migraines. The researchers found a significant association between tinnitus and headache laterality, meaning that a person with tinnitus in the right ear tended to also have their head pain on the right side, and the same went for the left side.
In addition, the severity of tinnitus and headache coincided in nearly half of the participants. So when their head pain became more severe, their tinnitus did too, and vice versa.
Central sensitization may explain the tinnitus-migraine link. Central sensitization occurs when your brain and spinal cord develop a heightened sensitivity to both things that should hurt, like a needle prick, and things that shouldn’t hurt, like a regular touch.
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What Causes Vestibular Migraine
Vestibular migraines, like other migraine syndromes, tend to run in families. Although science has not completely clarified the complex mechanisms of migraine, it is known that women tend to suffer more from the condition than men, and symptoms may get worse around menstruation.
In addition, people vulnerable to vestibular migraines can experience episodes after migraine triggers including altered sleep patterns, MSG, menstrual cycle and food such as chocolate, ripened or aged cheese and red wine.
Hearing Changes And Headache Can Be Caused By Pressure In The Brain
In addition to vestibular migraine, Rajneesh explains that another kind of headache is associated with tinnitus: idiopathic intracranial hypertension.
This condition is caused by too much cerebrospinal fluid, the fluid around the brain and spinal cord, he says. Idiopathic intracranial hypertension can cause a severe headache and visual loss.
People who have this describe their tinnitus as almost like a gushing sensation in the ear or as though they are standing by the ocean and hearing the waves come in, says Rajneesh.
This condition is rare, occurring in about 1 out of 100,000 people, though its more common in women ages 20 to 45 with obesity, with an incidence of about 20 out of 100,000, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders.
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How Are Migraines & Hearing Loss Linked
According to research, a correlation exists between migraines and hearing loss. A study found that out of 58 migraine sufferers, nearly 2/3 had one or more abnormalities with their cochlea function and auditory pathways. More research is needed to determine why this may be, but the same study suggests that the link may be because of a compromised blood supply to the auditory system during a migraine attack.
We know that Sensorineural Hearing Loss is caused by damage to the hair cells in the inner ear or to the nerve pathways between the inner ear and the brain. Other studies back up the claims of the research stated above, by suggesting that migraines can actually end up causing damage to these inner ear hair cells, which could then lead to SNHL. If the hair cells dont receive enough blood supply, they can become damaged and die. During a migraine, a sudden constriction of the labyrinthine arteries can cut off the supply of blood to the auditory system. Leading to a gradual, but permanent hearing loss.
Research suggests that those who suffer with migraines, are more likely to develop a sudden SNHL than their matched counterparts . However, they were not able to determine if this was a direct cause. Sudden hearing loss is a rare condition, and is considered a medical emergency. If you have experienced sudden hearing loss, you should seek medical attention immediately.
In This Cohort Patients With A Diagnosis Of Migraine Were At Risk For Developing Tinnitus And Other Cochlear Disorders
The headache community has had a long-held belief that migraines have no negative long-term impact on the auditory pathways.1 Of course, abnormal sensory disturbances, which include tinnitus and hearing loss, were well-described acute migraine symptoms.2 But until recently, few studies had shown these disorders to persist.1,2
- Among patients who had received a migraine diagnosis, researchers assessed for first incidence of a cochlear disorder diagnosis, described as tinnitus, sensorineural hearing impairment, and/or sudden deafness.
- Odds ratios showed that cochlear disorders were nearly 3 times more prevalent among those with migraines compared with controls.
- If these results are confirmed, cochlear migraine may become the most newly recognized variant of migraine.
Now, evidence of hearing impairment and sudden deafness in those with a history of migraines is mounting.3 A group from Taiwan recently published data on auditory changes associated with migraineseven when migraines do not occur concurrently with the disorders.2 They have even proposed a new diagnosis for migraine that revolves around cochlear disorders.3
Stratifying the groups by specific cochlear disorder, the adjusted hazard ratios comparing those with and without migraine were reported to be 3.30 for tinnitus, 1.03 for sensorineural hearing impairment, and 1.22 for sudden deafness.2
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Patient History And Physical Examination
As with any type of dizziness evaluation, the history is the most important means to diagnose migraine-associated vertigo. Patients with migraine-related vestibulopathy typically experience a varied range of dizzy symptoms throughout their life and even within individual attacks. These symptoms may be solitary or may be a combination of vertigo, lightheadedness, and imbalance.
A thorough headache history is also important when evaluating patients for possible migraine-associated vertigo. Many patients with recurrent headaches are unaware that their headaches may be from migraine. Therefore, the examining physician should have a thorough knowledge of the strict diagnostic criteria for migraine diagnosis.
A study by Bruss et al found that in persons with recurrent benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, those with migraine headache and those without did not show a statistically significant difference in the rate at which the majority of migraine-related symptoms in the study occurred. The investigators stated that these results may indicate a link between recurrent benign paroxysmal positional vertigo and migraine and suggested that this form of vertigo may be a manifestation of otologic migraine.
What Should You Do About Migraine
The first important step is to get properly diagnosed with migraines. These are very different from other headaches. A misdiagnosis could delay treatment.
Because youre appropriately diagnosed, you can talk to your doctor about effective ways to prevent migraines, reduce their duration and frequency. The little hairs in the cochlea dont die all at once. Ongoing and repeated loss of blood supply may cause them to die over time. Treating migraines may reduce your chances of hearing loss.
If you experience sudden hearing loss, get help immediately.
But also make sure to schedule an annual hearing test. Let them know that you get migraines. Hearing specialists will be able to measure how your hearing is changing over time and how the migraine-related hearing loss may be progressing and whether you need hearing aids.
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Does Migraine Ever Cause Sudden Hearing Loss
If a person experienced sudden hearing loss, migraine wouldnt be at the top of the list for the underlying cause, although it would be a consideration, says Rajneesh. Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is a sign of a potentially serious health issue, and we would do an extensive workup to find the underlying cause. We would want to rule out other conditions, which could include infection, Ménière’s disease, or sometimes a clot in the veins draining the brain can cause hearing issues.
Ménière’s disease is caused by the buildup of fluid in the compartments of the inner ear, called the labyrinth, usually affecting only one ear. Migraine-type headaches can sometimes occur with Ménière’s disease, along with hearing changes, tinnitus, and hearing loss in rare cases, the hearing loss can be sudden, according to the Merck Manual.
Ménière’s disease is a condition that ebbs and flows, says Rajneesh. After youre diagnosed with it, you may have several months where youre feeling better, and then something changes and your ear gets full again, and then you get hearing loss again, he says.
Even though sudden deafness is quite rare, a meta-analysis published in October 2020 in Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology found that individuals with migraine were at a higher risk for sudden sensorineural hearing loss compared with people without migraine.
Why Migraine Sufferers Should Be Vigilant About Hearing Loss
37 million Americans deal with migraines. For 5 million of these sufferers, a migraine is, at minimum, a monthly affair. These excruciating headaches can last for many days.
Just when you thought that the pain and sensitivity were the worst part of migraines, scientists set out to prove you wrong, showing a clear link between these headaches and hearing loss.
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