For some, a migraine starts with mental and physical warning signs: tiredness, mood changes, craving sweet foods, feeling thirsty, a stiff neck, etc. For others, it begins with a visual aura or nausea. Then comes the notorious pain and pounding sensation in the head. If you’re a migraine sufferer, you’re probably familiar with your own stages of a migraine, but do you know about the link between migraines and hearing loss? Educate yourself on how migraines can permanently impact your hearing, and contact your doctor or audiologist to get treated today.
The Link Between Migraines and Hearing Loss
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 don’t receive an adequate supply of blood, they can eventually become damaged and die. During a migraine, a vasospasm (a sudden constriction) of the labyrinthine arteries can cut off the supply of blood to the auditory system. This can lead to gradual, yet permanent hearing loss.
Migraines and Sudden Hearing Loss
Another study found that migraine sufferers are nearly twice as likely to develop sudden sensorineural hearing loss, which is a type of hearing loss caused by damage to the inner ear or the nerve that travels from the ear to the brain. Researchers from Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan discovered there is a correlation between the number of individuals who experience migraines and the number of individuals who experience rapid hearing loss in one or both ears immediately or over the course of several days.
The researchers were not able to determine the exact cause, but sudden sensorineural hearing loss is a rare condition. Just because you suffer from migraines, that does not mean you are likely to experience sudden sensorineural hearing loss. There are only 4,000 cases in the United States each year (source). However, sudden hearing loss is a medical emergency, so you should seek medical treatment immediately if you are having trouble hearing.
A Headache or a Migraine?
Sometimes it can be hard to discern between a headache and a migraine. In both instances, pain can occur in one part of the head or multiple parts of the head. If you’re experiencing a pain with a throbbing quality, you could be having a migraine. A few other tell-tale signs of a migraine include nausea, dizziness, and sensitivity to light. On the other hand, if your pain is steadier with a tight sensation, you might be experiencing a tension headache.
Research supports the link between migraines and hearing loss. So if you have migraines, make sure you receive an annual hearing test, and consider contacting Sound Relief Hearing Center in Colorado or Arizona (our Scottsdale office opened its doors on April 2, 2018!). With our unparalleled excellence in the hearing industry, our dedication to patient satisfaction, and our commitment to helping people control and conquer their hearing issues, you can count on Sound Relief Hearing Center for support and assistance. To learn more about us, please browse our website, visit our Youtube channel, or give us a call at 720-259-9962. You can also schedule an appointment online to meet with one of our audiologists. We look forward to working with you!