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Migraine Symptoms: Tinnitus

Tinnitus, frequently described as a ringing, whooshing, roaring or hissing sound in the ear, is a symptom often associated with migraine disease.

Tinnitus is experienced by patients with migraine with aura and migraine without aura, but how many migraine patients are affected is not clear at this time.

We do know that among patients with basilar-type migraine, about 1/4 to 2/3 are affected by tinnitus. Basilar-type migraine is defined in the International Headache Society Classification (ICHD-II) as as subtype of migraine with aura characterized by attacks involving aura, such as tinnitus, vertigo, visual symptoms, etc., but no motor weakness.

Tinnitus also shows up for many migraine patients as a diagnosis of a condition called Meniere’s Disease. Meniere’s Disease is a disorder of the inner ear that involves tinnitus, vertigo, nausea, vomiting and progressive hearing loss. The frequency with which migraine patients experience Meniere’s Disease and the overlap of symptoms between the two suggests a connection between these conditions.

In cases where it is possible to identify and treat an underlying cause of tinnitus, this is the best approach. For many migraineurs, however, this may not be possible and the best remaining approach is to manage the condition. Management options include biofeedback, hypnosis, electrical stimulation, relaxation techniques, counseling and devices called tinnitus maskers.

If you’re dealing with persistent tinnitus, your first step should be to consult with a hearing specialist to pursue help and management options.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

1. Radtke, Andrea, MD; Lempert, Thomas, MD; Gresty, MA, PhD; Brookes, GB, FRCS; Bronstein, Adolfo M, MD, PhD; Neuhauser, Hannelore, MD, PhD. “Migraine and Ménière’s disease.” Neurology 2012;59:1700-174. doi: 10.1212/01.WNL.0000036903.224. Available at: http://www.neurology.org/content/59/11/1700. 2. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. “Tinnitus Management.” Accessed September 30, 2012. http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/treatment/tinnitus_manage.htm. 3. Headache Classification Subcommittee of the International Headache Society. “The International Classification of Headache Disorders 2nd Edition.” Cephalalgia 2004;24:8-160. 4.

Comments

  • sunnynights68
    1 week ago

    I know this is an old post, but I just started getting this ringing in my head And I get it without the migraine sometimes. I also have 2 abnormal MRIs that my neurologist is going to order a spinal tap and labs because of the MRIs. I was wondering if the white matter changes causes the tinnitus.

  • Allyson.Ellis moderator
    1 week ago

    Hi sunnynights68, thank you for reaching out! I hear how disconcerting and uncomfortable your tinnitus symptoms are for you. New symptoms always feel scary. I’m glad your doctor is ordering some follow up tests, given the abnormal MRIs. While it may not directly answer your question, I thought this article might be of interest to you: https://migraine.com/blog/migraine-white-matter-lesions/ It does state that at this point (and the article was written a few year back) white matter has not been found to cause symptoms. Please check back and let us know what you learn from your doctor following your other tests. Wishing you a gentle day. ~Allyson (Migraine.com team)

  • Lisa Riley
    5 years ago

    I’ve had tinnitus for so long that I miss it when it isn’t there. About as long as the migraines, so 36 years or so. The Meniere’s is also a genetic thing, but I’m wondering how much can be contributed to the teeny tiny Eustachian tubes I have that are constantly plugged. I’m now at about 50% loss on both ears…

  • Sherlyn
    5 years ago

    OH THIS IS SO ME ..I have been to two hearing Dr that said I am fine ! I have been ck’d for Menieres, and they say I dont have it. they say the whoosping and roaring is the blooding rushing in my blood vessels to my head , that why if I push just right behind my ears it stops… its because the blood then goes to another vessel. And they can’t fix that I have to live with it. So what to I do ???

  • Pamela L
    7 years ago

    I thought I was crazy! I thought it was just me! At one point I wondered if there was a connection and giggled it, but didn’t chime up with anything useful. Thank you so much!

  • Pamela L
    7 years ago

    chime= come

  • Pamela L
    7 years ago

    googled, not giggled. Silly Autocorrect…

  • Julie
    7 years ago

    Diana-I get the ringing and the aura, but my ear will pop a lot too. My dentist checked and I don’t have TMJ, so could that also be a part of it also? Sometimes at night when I lay down I hear the whooshing and hissing but it’s not as noticeable when I’m up and about. I told my neuro about the popping and he said check w/my dentist to see if I have TMJ because I do have an overbite and I do clench my jaw when I’m tense, but I don’t grind my teeth. My jaw is not sore when I wake up. Just the head.

  • Diana-Lee author
    7 years ago

    It was a good idea to rule out TMJ, but I definitely think the popping could be related to tinnitus, especially since you hear some of the noises that are hallmarks of it.

  • Karen
    7 years ago

    Diana ~ I’ve always thought that the ringing in my ears was due to one of my medications, specifically Topamax. Which may still be accurate since it is one of the side effects from taking it…that, and I don’t seem to fall into either of the categories above. I’ve gotten so use to it that unless it’s really quiet or someone mentions it, I don’t even notice it anymore. Sad really. It is what it is though.

  • Turok
    2 years ago

    I’ve had tinnitus for years. When I mentioned it to my doctor, she asked how much over the counter pain relief I’ve used over the years. When I was in my late teens, early twenties I was taking 10 to 15 ibuprofen or acetaminophen a day. She then informed me that overuse of these can lead to tinnitus. It’s permanent but seems to be worse during a really bad migraine, maybe because I try to shut out all other sound so that’s all I hear.

  • Diana-Lee author
    7 years ago

    Our ability to adapt never ceases to amaze me.

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