Headaches, Tinnitus & Hearing Loss

Headaches, Tinnitus & Hearing Loss

If you suffer from headaches, including chronic, debilitating migraines, a recent study suggests there might be a connection with hearing loss and tinnitus, as well. We have known for some time that there are many other health conditions associated with hearing loss and tinnitus. For instance, those who have hearing loss are more likely to have cardiovascular disease and diabetes. They are also more likely to have dementia and other forms of cognitive decline. With these relationships in mind, this new research has established another surprising connection. Migraine headaches are thought to be caused by a number of factors, and they are difficult to treat. Let’s take a closer look at this connection and explore if getting treatment for hearing loss might help reduce headache symptoms. 

Migraines and Headaches

Among the many types of headaches, migraines are particularly acute. Migraines are defined by a sever throbbing pain that usually occurs on one side of head. Some sufferers of migraines also experience nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. These headaches can last for hours or days, and many people find it difficult to complete daily activities or to do their jobs when a migraine strikes. Although much is known about the symptoms of migraines, research continues to explore the causes and potential remedies. Many associated factors can trigger a migraine, and the most effective treatment has been prevention by limiting these triggering circumstances. 

Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

This recent study demonstrated that those who have migraines are much more likely to have hearing loss and tinnitus than the general population. The researchers used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study to gather information on 12,962 individuals aged 18 to 65 in the years 1999 to 2004. This dataset was large enough to make inferences about the general population, including comparisons with national norms and averages. This comparison was striking. About 25% of those who reported having migraines also reported having hearing loss, as opposed to 17% of the comparable general population. About 35% of those who reported migraines also reported having tinnitus, as opposed to a similar 17% of the general population. With these numbers in hand, the researchers were able to use sophisticated statistical methods to determine that the relationship was significant.

Holistic Hearing Health

Although our ears seem to be disconnected from other parts of our bodies, they are in fact integrated into the complex web of bodily functioning. When one part of the body has a limitation or condition, the rest of the body can be recruited to compensate, and that reallocation of bodily resources commonly causes stress. We know that stress is one of the triggering factors for migraines, along with other bodily stressors. When a person has untreated hearing loss or tinnitus, an increase in stress can occur, as well. Experts wonder if stress is one of the possible connections between hearing loss, tinnitus, and migraines. Untreated hearing loss can make our experience of the world an altogether stressful one. Rather than experiencing conversations and social connections as easy, fluid exchanges, we can suddenly find them to be onerous, frustrating, and exhausting. Rather than a direct flow between hearing language and turning it into meaning, the assembly becomes a puzzle. Those who have untreated hearing loss often feel like they are trying to assemble a puzzle without all the pieces. Conversations become an expectation that you will be able to assemble the puzzle, but hearing loss gets in the way of making sense of what others have to say. That mental, cognitive, emotional, and social stress can be enough to induce a headache, including a migraine. 

If you experience migraine headaches, it is wise to schedule a hearing test. Finding out that you do not have hearing loss establishes a good baseline for your ability. On the other hand, finding out that you have hearing loss can point you toward treatment. When you get treatment for your condition, you might find that migraines are triggered less frequently. Reducing stress through wearing hearing aids is one way to promote your general health and wellbeing. If you are ready to schedule a hearing test, simply give our hearing health professionals a call.