Can Migraine Cause Tinnitus?

During a migraine, some sufferers feel a pressure within their head or ear, have neck pain, find it hard to hear low sounds or develop tinnitus. People may also experience headaches and visual problems such as hazy or blurred vision.

It’s 6 p.m. on a Sunday evening and we have not done much all day except relax and tidy up the garden. There is a bit of a warm wind blowing outside which feels unusual for September weather.


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I start to talk to my wife about tinnitus and she says… “What about my migraine and tinnitus.  Why are you not speaking about that?”
So here it is…

My wife has had migraine headaches for many years. Anyone who suffers from migraines will tell you they are incapacitating. The sufferer will just want to go to bed and maybe take some medication. For acute sufferers, an injection is all that will alleviate the pain.
Many do not realise that a side effect of migraines can be tinnitus.

I asked my wife to describe the tinnitus when she has a migraine…

“I feel a puffiness and ringing in my right ear along with the migraine pain. It is like someone has a pillow pressed up against my ear. This feeling also affects my balance and co-ordination.”

Headaches and Tinnitus

Tinnitus can be associated with different types of headache disorders. One headache type where tinnitus is sometimes seen is migraine. Some patients report that their tinnitus worsens during migraine attacks. Both tinnitus patients and headache patients share similar complaints. These complaints include but are not limited to; depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and increased stress levels.

Do headaches make Tinnitus worse?

What effects does a headache have on the severity of tinnitus symptoms? When researching the correlation between headaches and tinnitus, the results show that headaches do not increase the severity of the symptoms. People who experience headache disorders often complain of the same symptoms that tinnitus sufferers do such as anxiety, depression and stress.

What do tinnitus and migraine feel like?

Migraines often come with throbbing pain, nausea, and light sensitivity, but they also can have ear-related symptoms like fullness & muffled hearing.

What is a Migraine?

A migraine is usually a moderate or severe headache felt as a throbbing pain on one side of the head. Many people also have symptoms such as feeling sick, being sick and increased sensitivity to light or sound. Migraine is a common health condition, affecting around 1 in every 5 women and around 1 in every 15 men. They usually begin in early adulthood.
There are many types of migraine, including migraine with aura – where there are specific warning signs just before the migraine begins, such as seeing flashing lights. Migraine without aura – the most common type, where the migraine happens without the specific warning signs. Migraine aura without headache, also known as silent migraine – where an aura or other migraine symptoms are experienced, but a headache does not develop. Some people have migraines frequently, up to several times a week. Other people only have a migraine occasionally. It’s possible for years to pass between migraine attacks.

The cause of migraines is unknown presently. They are thought to be the result of changes in the chemicals, blood vessels and nerves in the body. Many people have relatives who also have the condition such as my wife and our daughter, this suggests that genetic makeup is a factor in migraines. Migraines are often associated with triggers such as starting a period, stress, tiredness or certain foods or drink.

Migraines have been treated by painkillers such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, triptans & anti-emetics. – please consult your doctor if in doubt.  Many folks find sleeping or lying in a dark room is helpful to alleviate the pain.

Preventing Migraines & tinnitus.

Logically, if you suspect a specific trigger is causing your migraines, such as stress or a certain type of food, avoiding this trigger may help reduce your risk of experiencing migraines. It may also help to maintain a generally healthy lifestyle, which includes regular exercise, good sleep and healthy meals, as well as ensuring you drink plenty of water, avoiding caffeine and alcohol.

If your migraines are severe or you have tried avoiding possible triggers and are still experiencing symptoms, a doctor may prescribe medicines to help prevent further attacks. Medicines used to prevent migraines include the anti-seizure medications –  topiramate and a medicine called propranolol that’s usually used to treat high blood pressure. Propranolol is the one my daughter takes.


It may take several weeks before your migraine symptoms begin to improve.

Further reading.

There is a very detailed study about migraine and tinnitus here…


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