Hearing & Balance Doctors

Distinguishing Between Meniere’s and Migraines

Dizziness and vertigo are problems that afflict many people worldwide. In fact, dizziness is one of the most common reasons for doctor visits in people over the age of 65.

What causes it?

There are many potential causes for dizziness, but in the over 65 population, inner ear issues are the most common. In our clinic, we specialize in diagnosing inner ear problems and helping our patients get the appropriate treatment.

A recent article in The Hearing Journal (volume 68, Number 4, p. 44) discussed two potential causes of dizziness and vertigo: migraines and Meniere’s disease.

The article, titled “Migraine: Making the Vestibulocochlear Connection” was authored by Dr. Dennis Colucci. Both migraine-associated vertigo and Meniere’s disease cause spontaneous recurrent vertigo (or sudden episodes of vertigo that repeat periodically).

What is Meniere’s disease?

Meniere’s disease is a condition caused by a fluctuation of fluids in the inner ear. It is characterized by a sudden loss of hearing in one ear accompanied by a sense of fullness and a roaring sound in that ear.

Following these symptoms, the patient will experience severe vertigo lasting minutes to days in duration. The fullness, roaring sound, and hearing loss will also subside over time. Eventually, a permanent low-frequency hearing loss will develop in the affected ear.

Migraine-associated vertigo is thought to be caused by vascular changes in the inner ear. It can also result in temporary hearing loss, ringing in the ear, and vertigo. Some forms of migraine-associated vertigo may also be caused by cerebellar or brainstem issues.

Usually, the onset of symptoms begins with strange mood or body sensations followed by dizziness/vertigo. About half of these patients will then develop a headache, but in many individuals, no headache ever develops. Commonly, these patients will also describe sensitivity to light and sound.

Treatment for Vertigo

At Hearing & Balance Doctors, we use state-of-the-art equipment to help differentiate between various types of vertigo. Equally as important, our doctors spend a great deal of time taking a thorough case history with each patient in order to arrive at the correct diagnosis.

We love to help our patients feel better, and a correct diagnosis is the first step in the recovery process.

If you are having any balance or hearing issues, please call us at (435) 688-8991 to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors.

Do you know somebody that needs to see this? Why not share it?

Dr. Ryan Whitaker

Dr. Whitaker joined Hearing & Balance Doctors of Utah in 2009. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Brigham Young University in 2005 with his Bachelors of Science in Audiology and Speech Pathology. He then received his Doctor of Audiology from the University of Arizona where he minored in Cognitive Neuroscience (the study of how people perceive sound). While at the University of Arizona, he specialized in evoked potentials, specifically researching Cortical Auditory Evoked Potentials and the Acoustic Change Complex. He gained clinical experience at Tucson Ear, Nose, and Throat; St. Joseph’s Hospital Balance Center; Arizona Hearing Specialists; and the Center for Hearing Impaired Children. Dr. Whitaker was raised in Orem, Utah with three older sisters and a younger brother (who is also an audiologist). His grandfather was a cartoonist for the Walt Disney Studios where he drew Donald Duck and many characters in Peter Pan, Cinderella, and Alice in Wonderland before starting the BYU Motion Picture Studio. Dr. Whitaker is married and has three sons. He is passionate about college football and also enjoys hiking in Southern Utah, reading, and traveling. He has traveled extensively through South Asia including Thailand, India, Nepal, and a church mission to the Philippines.

    Request a Callback