A migraine headache, characterized by its moderate to severe headache pain, is one of the most disabling conditions in the world. This headache, triggered by stress, food, climate, environment, hormonal changes, and numerous other causes can lead to nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. Now, there may be a link between migraine headaches and hearing loss.
Migraine headaches result from physiological changes in the brain and lead to pain and various other symptoms. Nausea and vomiting often accompany a headache which may affect one or both sides of the head. Estimates specify that more than 38 million people suffer from migraines in the United States alone with more than 5 million experiencing at least one migraine episode per month. Women, people between the ages of 35 and 55, low-income groups, and Caucasians experience migraine headaches the most frequently.
New research findings may now indicate a connection between migraine headaches and hearing loss. Researchers are working to establish a relationship between sensorineural hearing loss and migraine headaches. The results are in a 2012 issue of the American Journal of Otolaryngology. The study examines blood flow to the ear. Sensory hair cells in the cochlea rely on adequate blood circulation to properly function. When there is a decrease in the flow of blood, the hair cells experience damage or death which results in a sensorineural hearing loss.
The research team made use of electrophysiological testing to examine the connection. The function of the cochlea and auditory pathways of study participants with and without migraine headaches were the focus of the research which found two-thirds of the migraine group to have one or more abnormalities. Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) and auditory brainstem response (ABR) tests measured their brain’s response to sound. The research team believes that the anomalies present in the migraine headache test group could be a consequence of blocked blood supply to the auditory system as a result of a migraine attack. An additional study concludes that those with migraine headaches are twice as likely to develop sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL).
Researchers in Taiwan are suggesting a link between tinnitus and migraines. Their study concludes that the risk of cochlear disorders, and especially tinnitus, is higher among test subjects with a history of migraine headaches. Tinnitus may or may not have an association with migraines. Keeping a detailed migraine diary allows you to track patterns and triggers of migraine headaches and might let you find patterns between tinnitus and migraine headaches.
Migraines and hearing loss are both unpleasant. It is vital to have both diagnosed adequately by a healthcare professional. Know your migraine triggers and the patterns your migraine headaches follow. Keep a journal to track your migraine headaches. If you have tinnitus use the journal to spot any possible connections between the ringing and migraine headaches. Of course, have your hearing checked regularly by a qualified hearing healthcare professional.