Can Migraines Cause Tinnitus?

Sep, 05, 2023

Ever wondered if there's a connection between migraines and the persistent ringing in your ears? Migraines and tinnitus can both severely disrupt an individual's quality of life, and unfortunately, they can often occur simultaneously. That said, you aren't the only one questioning the relationship between migraines and tinnitus. Let's dive into the link between the two, their symptoms and the latest research on potential treatments.


What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a perceived sound; many describe the sound as a ringing, buzzing, hissing, or humming noise. This sound doesn't come from an external source; instead, the individual living with tinnitus is the only one to hear this sound. For some people, the sound may be continuous, while for others, it may be intermittent. The pitch and noise can vary from person to person. Likewise, tinnitus can occur in either one or both ears. Tinnitus can affect an individual's quality of life by causing sleep disturbances, general irritation, difficulty concentrating on everyday tasks and emotional stress.

What is a migraine?

Those who suffer from migraines know that a migraine is much more than just a headache. A migraine is a complex neurological condition that causes various symptoms, with the most commonly associated symptom being severe throbbing pain on one side of the head. Migraine "attacks" can last anywhere from a few hours to several days and, for some people, are so severe that the only relief is to find a dark, quiet place and rest.

Signs of migraine

Again, a migraine and its associated symptoms may differ from person to person, but generally, the common signs of migraine are as follows:

  • A moderate to severe headache often described as throbbing or pulsating.
  • Sudden sensitivity to light, noise and sometimes smells.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Distorted vision or visual disturbances (this is known as aura).

The link between migraines and ringing in the ears

Recent research indicates that there is a correlation between migraine and tinnitus. Tinnitus can be experienced as a symptom of migraines and other headache disorders, often occurring before, during or after a migraine attack. This is particularly the case during vestibular migraines, during which a person will also experience vertigo or dizziness.

When it comes to understanding why tinnitus sometimes accompanies migraines, the exact cause remains unclear. However, scientists believe that the co-occurence could stem from heightened sensitivity in the brain. Studies also suggest that those who experience migraines are more likely to experience tinnitus. When discussing migraines and tinnitus, it is important to remember correlation does not always imply causation and further research will need to be conducted to make any conclusive links between the two conditions.

Treatment and Prevention

While, unfortunately, there is no universal cure for either migraines or tinnitus, there are several treatments that may help to improve your symptoms. For migraines, there are preventive medications that can help minimise the impact of your migraines. It is also possible to improve your condition with regular exercise, lifestyle modifications, stress management and a healthy diet.

In the case of tinnitus, when associated with migraines, often the treatment of the migraine itself will relieve the tinnitus. So, if you experience tinnitus during a migraine it is best to seek treatment for your migraines to clear up the related tinnitus.

However, if you are experiencing bothersome tinnitus separately from your migraines, you will need to seek personalised tinnitus care. For example, sound therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and tinnitus retraining therapy are all common and effective treatments for tinnitus. You can find more in-depth treatment options for tinnitus here

When to seek help

If you are experiencing persistent bothersome tinnitus, particularly if you are also experiencing frequent migraines, seek a hearing assessment or talk to your GP.

At Bay Audiology, we are committed to helping you manage your tinnitus and improve your hearing health. For more in-depth information on tinnitus or to organise a consultation, you can check out our comprehensive tinnitus guides on tinnitus causes and pulsatile tinnitus. Remember, you don't have to face the difficulty of tinnitus or migraines alone; our friendly team is here to help.


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