The link between migraines and hearing loss

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Having an annual hearing evaluation is a good idea no matter how well you are hearing, but if you suffer from migraine headaches it may be even smarter to keep close tabs on your hearing health. Studies show that those who suffer from migraine headaches have an increased risk of developing hearing loss than those who do not. Other studies indicate migraine sufferers are also twice as likely to suffer from sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL).

What are migraines?

According to more than 37 million Americans suffer from migraine, a neurological disease characterized by episodes known as migraine attacks. A migraineur’s brain is biochemically different than the brain of a person without this disease, which can be genetic and typically affects more women than men. Although migraine attacks are known as primary headaches, their symptoms differ from regular headaches. The most common symptoms are:

  • Throbbing, pulsating pain
  • Light sensitivity
  • Sound sensitivity
  • Nausea
  • Pain on one side
  • Vision changes
  • Aura (seeing bright spots, flashes or zigzag lines)
  • Vomiting

Migraines can last anywhere from 4 hours to several days. Symptoms and triggers vary according to the individual.

Migraines and hearing loss

So what does a neurological disease have to do with your hearing? Plenty, according to a study by researchers in Egypt’s Assiut University Hospital’s 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 (OAE), which measures the echo produced by the vibrations of hair cells in the cochlea when it’s stimulated, and the auditory brainstem response (ABR) test, which measures the brain’s 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.

To read the full article and treatment, visit Healthy Hearing


If you are experiencing hearing loss and aren’t sure where to begin with treatment, contact the Grey Bruce Audiology at 519-376-9084