Hearing loss and headaches

If you experience headaches now and again, you are not alone. Nearly everyone has a headache occasionally. However, migraines are a more severe and debilitating form of headache and the third most common disease in the world. If you suffer with migraine headaches then you are probably familiar with the intense pain it causes. But did you know that there is a link between migraines and hearing loss?

What are migraine headaches?

It may sometimes be difficult to distinguish between a bad headache or a migraine. Both cause pain in one or more parts of your head. If it feels like a throbbing pain, then you could be having a migraine type of headache. While migraine symptoms can vary from person to person, they often include:

  • Throbbing, pulsating pain
  • Light and sound sensitivity
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain on one side
  • Vision changes
  • Seeing bright spots or flashes

Migraine headaches and hearing loss

If you suffer from migraines then your brain could be biochemically different than the brain of a person who doesn’t. Studies have shown that people who experience migraine headaches have a higher risk of developing hearing loss compared to those who don’t. A study looked at the function of the cochlea and auditory pathways of migraine sufferers. It measured the echo produced by the vibrations of hair cells in the cochlea when stimulated and the brain’s response. The results showed that migraine sufferers had at least one abnormality due to a compromised blood supply to the auditory system as a result of migraines.

Tackling migraine-related hearing loss

As migraines are very different from other headaches, it’s important you get a proper migraine diagnosis. Your doctor will then be able to discuss your options for preventing and treating your migraines, which can also help to reduce your chances of developing hearing loss. Treatment for migraines varies depending on the severity and frequency of the pain you are experiencing, but should include an annual hearing test.

Detecting hearing loss

When you have been diagnosed with migraine headaches, it’s important that you also get your hearing checked by a licensed hearing care professional. Let them know that you get migraines and their frequency and severity. They will be able to measure and monitor how your hearing is changing and how your migraine-related hearing loss is progressing. There are several ways of detecting hearing loss, including:

  • Examination of the inside of your ear for infection, inflammation, ear wax or structural issues
  • Listen to words or sentences at different volumes and then repeat them
  • Listen to sounds through headphones that are a different volume and pitch and then report each sound you hear
  • Inserting a soft plug into your ear canal to measure pressure to . show whether your ear is working correctly

If you think your headaches may be migraines then it’s important to seek medical advice. The same goes if you experience any degree of hearing loss, book a consultation with a licensed care professional as soon as possible.

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