Migraine, Hearing Loss, Tinnitus: An Interesting and Unusual Case Study

HHTM Staff: This is a quick post to alert you to a fascinating case study involving one-sided, mild hearing loss; one-sided, extreme tinnitus; and horrible migraine-type headaches.

The patient was an adult female.  As you’ll see from reading the article, her symptoms were suspected to be related to some sort of trauma — perhaps a chiropractic manipulation.  As far as we can tell, that suspicion remains only speculative.  She did have an audiology work-up but there is no report of whether her hearing symptoms were constant or if they fluctuated with her head pain.  There is also no mention of her word recognition performance and whether it fluctuated.

Suggested causes ranged from ear wax to brain tumors, none of which proved out.  In the end, the diagnosis turned out to be a old, almost-forgotten diagnosis called hemicrania continua–perhaps little used because it is based on symptoms and not on cause, which remains unknown.

From our reading, the symptoms that characterize hemicrania continua don’t include hearing problems and treatment is only intermittently effective.  According to the case history, this woman experienced complete recovery after receiving medication.  The diagnosing physician considered himself lucky to have stumbled on the case and “cure” and didn’t discuss the possibility that her condition may be recurring.

This is an interesting case history because it involves hearing complaints coupled with a clinical diagnosis for a condition that is not known to involve  hearing.  We’re not sure what to make of it, but want to archive it here on our blog in case we see anyone with a similar history and complaints.  We’re also interested in hearing from people who have experienced anything similar.

Along the way, we found a user-friendly slide show on tinnitus that patients may find helpful.  If you’re interested, just click on the link.


photo courtesy of Utah Hearing and Balance