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Sensitivity to sound

An introduction to migraine sensitivity to sound symptoms

Sensitivity to sound is a frequent migraine symptom. About three quarters of migraine suffers complain of sound sensitivity. It is the third most common migraine symptom behind throbbing pain and sensitivity to light. About 77 percent of females and 70 percent of males experience sound sensitivity with migraine attacks.

Sensitivity to sound can come in different forms:

  • In some, loud sound cause migraines
  • Other migraine sufferers say loud sounds make migraine pain worse
  • Migraine sufferers may also be sensitive to quiet sounds
  • Some migraine sufferers experience temporary hearing loss
  • Sufferers may complain that migraines make noises louder


Researchers believe there is a deficiency in the way sound sensitivity is suppressed by the brain in migraine sufferers. Others in the field are examining whether a problem with the calcium channel – found in the brain and inner ear – are responsible for the sound-related symptoms.

A 2008 study published in the journal Headache found that 26 percent of patients answer “no” when asked if they are sensitive to sound during a migraine. However, when those that said “no” were asked if they’d rather be in a quiet room or a room with loud music, 95.5 percent chose quiet room, indicating a possible sensitivity to sound.

Sensitivity to sound is more common in younger migraine sufferers than in older ones.

Age Percentage who suffer from sensitivity to sound

18 to 38 77 percent

60+ 67 percent

Written by: Otesa Miles | Last review date: November 2010
International Headache Society, Slide Library: Migraine is a neuronal disorder & the cortex plays a pivotal role