Everyone has headaches from time to time. These can be caused by stress, or may even be a symptom of a cold or flu. However, some adults often have recurrent headaches or severe migraines that interfere with daily life. Along with the headache pain, people with migraines often report more symptoms, such as a visual aura or tinnitus. Migraines are even linked to hearing loss.
Can Headaches Contribute to Hearing Loss?
The connection between migraines and hearing loss may not seem obvious at first. But studies have found a link between migraines, tinnitus, and hearing loss. A 2021 study conducted by researchers at the Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery at the University of California took a closer look at how headaches and hearing loss are linked.
They used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and included information from 12,962 adults. For adults with migraines, both hearing loss and tinnitus were more common than for adults without migraines.
The study concluded that if someone often has migraines, they are 1.5 times more likely to experience hearing loss, and 2.2 times more likely to experience tinnitus.
Migraines and Sudden Hearing Loss
Migraines can also lead to sudden hearing loss. This type of hearing loss happens all at once. Sometimes it is temporary, but it can also be permanent. Adults who have frequent migraines are twice as likely to have sudden hearing loss.
The connection between migraines, tinnitus, and hearing loss goes both ways. People with tinnitus or hearing loss are more likely to have migraines, and people with migraines are also more likely to have hearing loss or tinnitus.
Dr. Djalilian, one of the authors of the recent study, says their team hypothesized an underlying cause that connected migraines with ear issues such as hearing loss and tinnitus. They called this otologic migraines, meaning a migraine that also affects the ear.
What’s interesting about this research is that treating otologic migraines and reducing migraine pain can sometimes reduce the symptoms of tinnitus and hearing loss. Migraine medications can decrease the experience of tinnitus and even improve sudden hearing loss.
Most migraine treatment focuses on managing pain symptoms during the migraine and preventing migraines in the future. Pain-relieving medications are helpful during migraines, and preventative medications can be taken daily to prevent migraines. Lifestyle changes, such as reducing stress, practicing relaxation techniques, and sticking to a consistent sleeping schedule can also reduce migraines.
Why Treat Hearing Loss and Tinnitus?
Dr. Djalilian hopes that this research will encourage more physicians to dig deeper into migraine symptoms and ask their patients about hearing loss and tinnitus. Along with treating migraines, doctors can refer their patients to an audiologist and help them seek treatment for hearing loss and tinnitus. Reducing these symptoms can also reduce the risk of experiencing migraines.
Are Hearing Aids Right for You?
There are several ways to treat tinnitus, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, tinnitus retraining therapy, medications, and noise masking devices. But one of the most effective tinnitus treatments is wearing hearing aids with a tinnitus management program. Hearing aids are calibrated to your unique hearing needs, and they’re comfortable to wear. If you have tinnitus, you can also include a tinnitus management program that’s also tailored to match your exact experience of tinnitus.
These programs work by masking the tinnitus sounds and making them fade into the background. You can choose between white noise, pink noise, brown noise, nature sounds, other pre-programmed sounds, or even your own music. This sound therapy will mask the troubling tinnitus sounds, making it much easier for you to shift your attention to other things, and let the tinnitus fade into the background.
If you have hearing loss, hearing aids will help you hear the sounds you’ve been missing. Hearing aids are calibrated to your unique hearing needs, so they will be a huge help in places with background noise, during a meeting, or whenever you need it the most.
Treating Hearing Loss
Do you have hearing loss, tinnitus, or migraines? Start with a hearing test and find out more about your hearing health. Then we’ll help you find hearing aids that match your lifestyle and provide exceptionally clear hearing.