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Hearing Aids and Specialized Ear Plugs for Weather Triggers

I have no hearing loss, but use hearing aids as a prophylactic treatment for weather indunce migraines.

Here's the information:

About two years ago, I was newly diagosed with intractable chronic daily migraines as a graduate student in speech language pathology in Kansas City. In one of my courses, I was training on how to check and repair hearing aids when I discovered immediate moderate relief listening through my hearing aid stethoscope. I talked with a lecturing neuroaudiologist to try to come up with a theory why hearing aids may help. She pointed me in the direction of specialized ear plug companies and local audiologists that may be willing to experiment with me.

I consulted my PCP, neurologist, and pain specialist. No one has any idea why it could work, but said give it a shot. I initially tried noise cancelling ear buds (thinking sound may be the problem) and they significantly increased my pain after a few minutes of wearing. (Apple stores will let you try out noise cancelling earbuds and headphones while in the store.) Traditional foam or putty ear plugs also incressed my pain. Earplane (airplane earplugs with a ceramic disc inside to allow for air pressure change in the ear) helped a little bit.

An initial audiologist in Kansas City met with me a year later, and over a few visits of testing with trial and error on hearing aid setting, allowed me to trial hearing aids for a week. The hearing aids were an incredible success, lowering my pain from a 7-8 to a 2-3 I then moved to Colorado in hopes of better weather for my migraines, met with an audiologist there, did work up with an ENT, sent records and hearing aid program settings from the Kansas City audiologist.

Unfortunately, the initial hearing aids I trialed were an $8,000 pair. With no hope of insurance coverage, I could only afford a $3000 pair. The $3000 pair did not provide as good of results (from a 7-8 to a 4-6), but it was consistent enough of an improvement, especially while driving, that I made the decision to get them.

It's been over a year of daily wear, with consistent results. My other daily migraine treatments include 75mg indomethacin extended release, 3000mg of tylenol, 300 mg of tramadol, 5 mg melatonin. 400 mg magnesium, and daily Cefaly use. I have also moved again from Colorado to California.

Possible side effects: tinnitus and sound sensitivity on extreme migraine days (though my migraines have been so severe for so long that doctors are unsure of if the tinnitus and sound sensitivity is directly caused by the migraine. Migraines did cause inner ear damage to my left ear, which was diagnosed by an audiologist and treated by a physical therapist).

We're still moving frequently, trying to find a weather climate that I can exist in. However, once we settle down, I'm going to try to find a team of doctors willing to study why this helps.

My current neurologist theorizes that the hearing aids could act as a mini TMS loop. No other specialist has had any theories, though they have mentioned it to other patients. Neither my docs or I have found any research, though I have quite a bit on sound sensitivities and audio processing in chronic migraine.

Anyone else have experience using hearing aids or anything like this?

  1. I have the MigraineX pressure regulating earplugs and don't find that they make a difference. They're also uncomfortable for some reason, I don't know but I don't like the way they feel when I wear them.

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