New Study Shows Association Between Migraines, Hearing Loss, and Tinnitus

Mar 21, 2022

Do you struggle with migraines? Do you have ringing in your ears? If so, you are not alone. A new study has found an association between migraines, hearing loss, and tinnitus.
First, let’s briefly review each of these conditions. A migraine is a type of headache that can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation. Migraines are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Some migraine attacks last hours, while others last for days. Migraine pain can be severe enough to interfere with daily life.
Hearing loss occurs when you cannot hear as well as a person with normal hearing. Common symptoms include muffled sounds and speech, difficulty understanding words, frequently asking others to speak louder or more clearly, needing to turn up the volume on the TV or radio, withdrawing from conversations, and avoiding social situations.
Tinnitus occurs when you hear ringing or another sound in your ears, yet an external sound is not present. Although ringing is the most common term used to describe tinnitus, the condition may also present itself as a sound like buzzing, humming, hissing, roaring, or clicking in the ears.
The recent study, based in California, examined nearly 13,000 subjects. The data was collected from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey database. Researchers used data from 1999-2004, as the survey questions from those years included a question regarding migraines. All of the participants were aged 18-65 and 52.9 percent were female.
Of a total 12,962 participants between 1999-2004, 2,657 reported suffering from migraines. Those with migraines tended to be women, slightly older, have a high body mass index (BMI), and have experience with neck pain. A total of 2,344 people reported subjective hearing loss, and 2,582 responded that they had tinnitus. Researchers found that those who suffered from migraines were more likely to also experience subjective hearing loss or tinnitus. Of those who reported subjective hearing loss, migraines were reported in 24.5 percent. The percentage of overlap was even higher among those with tinnitus; 35.6 percent of participants who reported tinnitus also reported migraines.
Furthermore, researchers found that those who suffered from migraines were more likely to experience subjective hearing loss or tinnitus than those who did not have migraines. Subjective hearing loss, tinnitus, and neck pain were all more common in migraine-sufferers than non-migraine-sufferers. Among participants with migraines, a higher proportion of those with tinnitus also had subjective hearing loss than those without tinnitus. In addition, a higher proportion of migraine-sufferers with subjective hearing loss also had tinnitus compared to those without hearing loss.
Currently, researchers do not yet fully understand the connection between these conditions. However, they believe it may be possible that the otologic effects of migraines may increase the risk for hearing loss and tinnitus in migraine-sufferers. Further research needs to be done to determine whether migraine prevention and treatment may help prevent the associated hearing loss and tinnitus.
To learn more about the link between migraines, hearing loss, and tinnitus, we welcome you to contact our hearing practice today. We are eager to care for you.