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Migraine and Hearing Loss: Here's what you Need to Know

21 October 2021, 17:33 CET

A migraine is a seriously debilitating condition in its own right, but it can also presage long-term consequences for your hearing.

If you suffer from recurrent migraines, therefore, it's usually a good idea to get your hearing checked regularly – possibly with the help of an online hearing test.

What is Migraine?

You can think of a migraine as a really bad, throbbing headache (though technically speaking, you can have a migraine without the headache), usually felt on one side of the head in particular. While you're suffering from a migraine, you might also find that you feel nauseous, and that you're sensitive to noise, and to bright lights.

Women are around three times as likely to suffer from migraines as men. They usually commence during early adulthood. They can recur regularly, more than once a week – or they can be relatively rare. You can self-medicate against the pain with the help of over-the-counter drugs like paracetamol and ibuprofen.

Can migraine cause and how is it related to hearing loss?

There's ample evidence in support of a link between migraines and hearing loss. One Taiwanese study found that people who suffer from migraines are around twice as likely as the general population to suffer from Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss – which causes near-immediate hearing loss. This condition is considered a medical emergency; in the US, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders estimates that around 0.02% of us suffer from this condition each year.

Another study from Egypt linked the suffering of migraines to a series of abnormalities in the inner ear, several of which increase your propensity to lose your hearing later in life. The authors of the study hypothesise that migraines might cause a restriction in blood supply to the inner ear – though definitive proof will require more extensive research.

Among the possible culprits in the case of Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss is Ménière's Disease, which is caused by an accumulation of fluid in the labyrinth – a cluster of chambers in the inner ear. Getting this condition identified will make it easier to seek treatment.

When to see a doctor?

If you lose your hearing during headaches, then it's time to visit the doctor so that more serious underlying problems can be either identified or ruled out. Other signals that all might not be well include an increase in the frequency and severity of your migraines. Early intervention can, in many cases, help patients to avoid the worse consequences – so don't delay in seeking medical attention.

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