Migraines and Meniere’s disease: a Match made in Hades

Published on: Modified on:



With migraines, your head often feels like a battle zone.  If you suffer migraines and Meniere’s disease, it can feel like WWIII.  Blinding headaches, throbbing ears, constant ear ringing, sharp pain in the eyes, dizziness, and vomiting are enough to make you want to raise the white flag.  What’s the connection between tinnitus from Meniere’s disease and migraines?


What is Meniere’s disease?

Meniere’s disease is an inner ear disorder that causes dizziness and tinnitus (ear ringing).  Most people who get Meniere’s disease are between the ages of 40 and 60, although it can happen in any age group.  Meniere’s disease is caused by excess fluid in the ears that gets in the way of sound messages between the inner ear’s cochlea and the brain.  Scientists do not agree as to why people get Meniere’s disease.  Theories range from viruses, autoimmune disorder, allergies, or hereditary predisposition.

What are the symptoms of Meniere’s disease?

Three main symptoms indicate Meniere’s disease:

  • Sporadic vertigo: Sensation of spinning or rocking that includes nausea and vomiting; vertigo is not constant, and doesn’t usually last longer than one day.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: Hearing loss that is caused by abnormal brain processing and communication between the brain and the cochlea is a symptom used to diagnose Meniere’s disease.
  • Tinnitus: Constant ear ringing; with Meniere’s disease, tinnitus symptoms are usually low pitch.

How are migraines and Meniere’s disease related?

Like Meniere’s disease, migraines are a disorder that occurs in the brain.  One popular theory is that your nervous system, responding to migraine triggers, causes a spasm at the base of your brain that causes blood vessels to constrict, setting into motion a series of chemical reactions that lead to debilitating migraine headaches.

Some scientists believe that migraines are caused by intercepted messages between the brain and the blood vessels in the head.  This bears striking resemblance to the cause of Meniere’s disease, which involves intercepted sound messages between the brain and the inner ear’s cochlea.

More facts correlating Meniere’s, tinnitus and migraines

  • Overwhelmingly, migraine disorder occurs more often in people with Meniere’s disease than in the general population.
  • The classic symptoms of Meniere’s disease- nausea, vertigo, ringing in the ears- are also common symptoms of a migraine attack.
  • Some scientists believe that like migraines, Meniere’s disease is also caused by constricted blood vessels.
  • Current research suggests that tinnitus in migraine sufferers is a symptom of allodynia, a neuropathic pain disorder that also occurs in fibromyalgia patients. Central sensitization caused by a hypersensitive nervous system causes symptoms like headaches, skin pain, and tinnitus.

Please tell us…

Do you suffer from tinnitus and migraines? If so, do you experience migraines with aura, or migraines without aura?

If you liked this article, then please share it with your friends!

Read more about migraine symptoms and causes:

Migraine Headaches, Cluster Headaches …Ponytail Headaches?

Allodynia and Migraine Pain


Tinnitus in Migraine: An Allodynic Symptom Secondary to Abnormal Cortical Functioning?

Meniere’s Disease- NIDCD Health Information