To investigate whether migraine is independently associated with tinnitus and subjective hearing loss (HL) in a large national database.
The de-identified 1999 to 2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey database was retrospectively queried for subjects aged 18 to 65. HL and tinnitus were subjectively reported by subjects.
A total of 12,962 subjects (52.9% female) with a mean age of 38.1 ± 14.6 years were included. This consisted of 2,657 (20.5%), 2,344 (18.1%), and 2,582 (19.9%) subjects who had migraine, subjective-HL, and tinnitus, respectively. In patients with tinnitus or subjective-HL, migraine was reported in 35.6% and 24.5%, respectively. Migraineurs were more likely to have subjective-HL (25.0% vs. 16.6%, p < 0.001) and tinnitus (34.6% vs. 16.9%, p < 0.001) compared to the nonmigraineurs. This corresponded to migraine having an odds ratio of 1.5 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.3–1.7, p < 0.001) and 2.2 (95% CI 2.0–2.4, p < 0.001) for subjective-HL and tinnitus, respectively. After adjusting for confounders, subjective-HL (odds ratio [OR] = 1.2, 95% CI 1.1–1.4, p = 0.003), tinnitus (OR = 2.1, 95% CI 1.9–2.3, p < 0.001), and neck pain (OR = 4.0, 95% CI 3.6–4.5, p < 0.001) were more common in migraineurs. Among migraineurs, a higher proportion of those with tinnitus also had subjective-HL compared to those without tinnitus (40.0% vs. 15.3%, p < 0.001), and a higher proportion of those with subjective-HL also had tinnitus compared to those without HL (58.1% vs. 27.3%, p < 0.001).
This study suggests an independent association between migraine with subjective-HL and tinnitus. Otologic migraine, which is the effects of migraine on the ear, may be partly responsible for the link between HL, tinnitus, neck pain, and migraine.