History of Migraine Associated With Higher Risk for Cochlear Disorders

anatomy of the ear
anatomy of the ear
An association may exist between a history of migraine and risk for cochlear disorders, including tinnitus.

A recent study published in JAMA Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery has found an association between a history of migraine and risk for cochlear disorders, including tinnitus.

This study included 1056 individuals with migraines, 672 women and 384 men, plus 4224 control individuals. Relative to the non-migraine group, those in the migraine cohort were found to be more likely to develop cochlear disorders (crude hazard ratio, 2.83; 95% CI, 2.01 to 3.99; adjusted hazard ratio, 2.71; 95% CI, 1.86 to 3.93). The cochlear disorder incidence rate was 81.4 per 1 million person-years (95% CI, 81.1 to 81.8) among individuals with migraine, compared with 29.4 per 1 million person-years (95% CI, 29.2 to 29.7) in participants without migraine.

The cumulative incidence of cochlear disorders was 12.2% and 5.5% in study participants with and without migraine, respectively (P <.01). The adjusted hazard ratios were 3.30 (95% CI, 2.17 to 5.00) for tinnitus, 1.22 (95% CI, 0.53 to 2.83) for abrupt deafness, and 1.03 (95% CI, 0.17 to 6.41) for sensorineural hearing impairment in individuals with migraine. 

Researchers used the Taiwan Longitudinal Health Insurance Database to collect data for this study. Participants received migraine diagnoses between the beginning of 1996 and the end of 2012. Control participants were also gathered from this database and were selected by propensity score matches. The primary outcome was the incidence rate of cochlear disorders, including tinnitus, abrupt deafness, and sensorineural hearing impairment. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to compare incidence rates between groups, and the association between migraine and cochlear disorders was examined using the Cox proportional hazards regression model.

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”In this large-scale cohort study, we found that patients with a history of migraine had a tendency to develop cochlear disorders, especially tinnitus. The results of this study supported the new concept and/or presence of [cochlear migraine],” concluded the study authors.


Hwang JH, Tsai SJ, Liu TC, Chen YC, Lai JT. Association of tinnitus and other cochlear disorders with a history of migraines [published online July 12, 2018]. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2018.0939