Heat & Chill Your Ears – Help For Migraine Sufferers?

A recent article in the DailyMail has reported findings that are a little odd and more than a little intriguing.

The new device – the caloric vestibular stimulation (CVS) – is a headphone style set that the patient wears to deliver the hot/cold therapy. Aluminium earpieces are featured inside the headphones, and one will be at 42C and the other at 17C.

Heating each ear at different temperatures seems like an odd way to treat migraines, but it is showing positive results thus far in both treatment and prevention. How? It doesn’t sound like they have any firm, definite answers here but it’s believed the different temperatures affect the nerves, and thus instigate changes in the brain stem region that’s thought to be responsible for migraines.

The trial was undertaken with 81 patients who would get regular migraines, max 14 per month. Patients wear them for 30 minutes on a daily basis for 3 months.

Small studies have shown benefits of the device over a placebo, with lower reported pain and a drop of 51.3% in prescription med usage. The majority of those that tried CVS said they had fewer migraines and would be happy enough to keep going with this style of treatment.

It’s thought that CVS could offer a novel way of treating migraines without the side-effects and concerns that come with prescription medications, namely triptans. I am prescribed sumatriptan, as are many other sufferers, for which you can experience strange sensations in your face, limbs, tingling, and flushing. Others find it can make them feel quite nauseous, and they can interfere with other medications too. CVS on the other hand is sounding like a far safer and less traumatic option, and it can be self-administered when needed with a minimum of training.

Of course, more research is needed before the device can be given the green light, and there’ll be a lot of red tape to cross before it could come on the market, but it’s certainly an interesting prospect. 

Is this something you’d want to try if the option became available?



  1. September 25, 2017 / 3:28 pm

    This is like the caloric test they use to find out your vestibular function.
    I had that done. It caused massive vertigo. It can cause vertigo in healthy prople, but it’s much worse for those of us with vestibular hypofunction.
    I’d never risk. My migraines are hell, but vertigo can be worse.

    Very interesting.

  2. September 28, 2017 / 3:45 am

    This is pretty fascinating – as someone who has suffered from migraines.

  3. October 4, 2017 / 4:37 pm

    That is very interesting!

    • InvisiblyMe
      October 4, 2017 / 5:55 pm

      I’m glad you thought so too! 🙂

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