Migraine is a risk factor for sudden sensorineural hearing loss: a nationwide population-based study

Cephalalgia. 2013 Jan;33(2):80-6. doi: 10.1177/0333102412468671. Epub 2012 Nov 28.


Background: The pathophysiology of idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) is poorly understood. Few case reports have proposed a possible link between migraine and SSNHL.

Objectives: This study aimed to explore the risk of idiopathic SSNHL in patients with migraine in a nationwide, population-based cohort study.

Methods: We identified patients with migraine from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD) between 2000 and 2009. Each migraine patient was matched with four randomly selected subjects without migraine for age, sex, and comorbidities. Both cohorts were followed up until the end of 2009. We compared the incidence rates of SSNHL in the two cohorts and identified the risk factors.

Results: A total of 10,280 migraine patients and 41,120 matched controls were enrolled with a median follow-up of five years. The migraine cohort had a greater risk of developing SSNHL than the matched cohort (81.6 vs. 45.7 per 100,000 person-years, incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 1.8; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.22-2.61, p = 0.002). The Cox proportional hazards analysis revealed that among migraine subjects, comorbidity with hypertension was associated with a trend of developing SSNHL (hazard ratio (HR) = 1.92, 95% CI 0.97-3.79, p = 0.06).

Conclusions: This population-based study demonstrates that migraine is associated with an increased risk of idiopathic SSNHL, which, however, is a rare condition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Causality
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / epidemiology*
  • Hearing Loss, Sudden / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology*
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Taiwan / epidemiology
  • Young Adult