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Tinnitus: Please Stop the Ringing

I’ve always experienced a ringing in my ears since a young age. It would come and go, but only as I got older did I notice the ringing was present during migraine attacks. It took me a while to put two and two together and figure that out. I use an app to track my migraines and that’s how I’ve been able to pick up triggers and the symptoms associated with migraine. Tinnitus is common in many types of headache disorders including migraine. I have read that it affects 10 – 15% of the population, and it can sound like ringing, hissing, roaring, or pulsating.

Tinnitus as a symptom of migraine

In my experience tinnitus is a symptom of migraine I deal with on a daily basis. It is definitely worse during an attack, and the intensity increases with the attack intensity. I must frequently have some sort of sound going to help distract my brain from focusing on the ringing. It can be quite maddening especially if I’m trying to sleep. Many times I use headphones to keep additional stimuli going on in my head. I suffer from insomnia now also thanks to migraine, and tinnitus is definitely a disrupter of sleep for me.

Allodynia and tinnitus – the one-two punch

I found it very interesting that tinnitus can actually be a sub-symptom of allodynia. After reading that it kind of makes sense to me since my cutaneous allodynia starts at my shoulders and goes up into my head. It seems as if migraine has another one, two punch in its arsenal that I will have to cope with daily. Growing up I knew a person that actually committed suicide due to her tinnitus being so intrusive on her life. I can’t imagine getting to that point, but I have had suicidal thoughts during my worst migraine attacks.

Trying to find ways to cope with tinnitus

Tinnitus regularly keeps me awake at night as I said, and no matter how tired I am I can’t sleep because I can’t get the noise to turn off. They do have some relief options for tinnitus such as a noise-canceling type hearing aid and lipoflavinoids as a natural remedy. I have not personally tried any reliefs other than just using my coping techniques. I am always looking for new ways to cope with the ringing. I remember a time when I thought wearing earplugs would be a good way to stop the noise. I was soon disappointed when I came to the realization that it was really all in my head! Treating tinnitus can be done with benzodiazepines that are long-acting. There are non-pharmacologic methods such as Habituation Retraining Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that can be effective as well.

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.

Comments

  • sysad
    2 months ago

    I got tinnitus in my mid 40s, most likely because of my specialty in the military. I have tried so many things with no relief at all. Since getting migraines, my tinnitus has gotten worse, especially during a migraine. A couple years ago, I would get crickets just before an attack. When I hear crickets, I get prepared. Night time and when I’m at work when it is quiet is the worse times. I believe Aimovig has made it worse as well.

  • donabc
    2 months ago

    What app do you use to track your migraines?

  • Tom Picerno moderator author
    2 months ago

    @donabc I use the Migraine Buddy app to track my migraines. You can track your symptoms, triggers, medications and more. It’s pretty user-friendly too and for a person in the midst of a migraine that’s good. Tom(migraine.com team)

  • donabc
    2 months ago

    Thank you, Tom!

  • Laura
    2 months ago

    Found out earplugs are bad for tinnitus when I married a snorer!
    Since it’s constant now I use a white noise machine to help with sleep but there are times when it’s so loud I still have trouble sleeping.
    On the days it’s the loudest I have trouble understanding people speak!
    I’ve had tinnitus since a young child, I definitely remember as young as age 5. But it’s only been constant since around age 53 (59 now.).
    It’s changes up sometime from high pitched ringing, to whooshing sounds. The sounds are rarely the exact same in each ear but I do have it in both.
    A new sound came in on top of the ringing sound recently but just in one ear. It sounded like a tiny hammer hitting a metal object. That’s been the worst yet.
    But back to the subject it’s always worst during a migraine.

  • Tom Picerno moderator author
    2 months ago

    @Laura I totally get what you are saying. At times it makes it difficult to stay focused on what people say to me. I hear them talking, but can’t seem to grasp what was said. I’m sorry to hear that you have suffered from tinnitus for so long. It can be quite maddening! Tom(migraine.com team)

  • newbattleaxe
    2 months ago

    Ah, tinnitus! My ears have been ringing for as long as I can remember. I also have a lousy sense of balance. Mama told me these are tied to my having had measles, mumps & pneumonia when I was a toddler. The high fevers I had damaged my inner ears & permanent teeth, leaving me with poor balance & tinnitus & lousy permanent teeth. (And a rich dentist.)
    I get an added “noise” when a migraine attack hits. It’s almost like a rain stick when I look from side to side, and it adds to my pain. I have no game plan for dealing with this, other than waiting for my meds to work.

  • Tom Picerno moderator author
    2 months ago

    @newbattleaxe my daughter had a similar experience to yours and had very bad ear infections as a child. She still experiences tinnitus, but fortunately, she was spared the migraine disease. Id love to see them come up with something to control or eliminate tinnitus! Tom(migraine.com team)

  • petmigraine
    2 months ago

    I’m sorry you have tinnitus, too~ Mine isn’t too annoying generally but some days it muffles my hearing so people constantly repeat/louder which hurts ! I feel the ringing makes my ears/head more sensitive to pain (doesn’t make sense but there you have it~).
    I had a chuckle over you trying earplugs~ I did that, too ! I can never wear earplugs/use headphones for very long as it eventually accentuates or even activates tinnitus 🙁
    For me, it’s often the case of the louder the ringing, the bigger the migraine.

  • Tom Picerno moderator author
    2 months ago

    @petmigraine I’m glad to hear your tinnitus is on the milder side. I have found over the years that migraineurs will try some pretty creative ways to escape the pain and other symptoms of migraine. It is true, unfortunately, the louder the ringing the worse the migraine! I pray that it will all just relent one day. Tom(migraine.com team)

  • CarmelR
    2 months ago

    I have tinnitus too. I have had it for years, even before my migraines started. I have found that I can distract myself from it through relaxation excercises I learned for anxiety – they calm the mind and help you not focus in on anything in particular. I didn’t intend to treat my tinnitus, but noticed that when I can calm my mind and body, my tinnitus also appears to go away. To that end, if your tinnitus has anything to do with stress of any kind, I think yoga, meditation, or mindfulness excercises can also help (as well as help with migraines).

  • Tom Picerno moderator author
    2 months ago

    @CarmelR thanks for the tip. I am trying to learn how to incorporate mindful calming exercises into my sleep routine for insomnia. Perhaps I can kill two birds with one stone and quiet the tinnitus as well. Tom(migraine.com team)

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