Let's talk brainstem: permanent damage? ABR, anyone?

Hi folks! I posted my much-too-long history on the “post your story” thread, but in a nutshell, I have dizzy, ear, and neuro symptoms with no diagnosis for many years.

Does anyone know, can migraine cause permanent damage to the brainstem? I know the brainstem is involved in migraine processes, but what does migraine do to the brainstem on a permanent basis?

Has anyone else had auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing? A.k.a. brainstem auditory evoked potentials (BAEP, BAER, and other initials).

I had it done in 2000 when the dizziness-specialist neurologist was trying to figure out my dizziness and neuro symptoms. (He eventually “diagnosed” “medical student’s disease,” although I don’t think he doubted my dizziness, just the neuro stuff I suppose.)

It was “highly abnormal,” according to the report–for some of the latencies it was double, way off the charts. I do have a severe hearing loss in my left ear, but some testing was done at the lower frequency, where my hearing is normal, and also in my right ear, which has normal hearing, so it is clear that this test was indeed extremely abnormal.

Another abnormal test was the acoustic reflex decay in my left ear at the same low frequency (500 Hz). It followed the graph line for “N. VIII disease” (that is, 8th nerve disease, the nerve of hearing and balance).

The neurologist said the pattern looked like an acoustic neuroma (benign tumor on the 8th nerve) but that MRI had already ruled out a tumor. He gave me no other explanation for the abnormal results.

This auditory testing has been the biggest abnormality found in all these years (I do have MRI “spots” on my brain but they could be from migraine or “small vessel ischemic disease”–but that’s another thread!).

Does anyone know of any relationship between migraine and abnormal ABR? Can low-level migraine (I don’t get headaches to speak of, at least not since high school) cause a bad ABR?

Has anyone else had ABR testing (and/or acoustic reflex testing) and what were the results?

I do believe something’s wacky in my brainstem, esp. given that episode of bizarre BPPV in which tipping my head left caused the ceiling to jerk up and down but with a concurrent beating/thumping in my RIGHT ear–not normal BPPV. That had to have been a crossed wire in the brainstem, I believe.

Any knowledge or experiences welcome! Thank you so much!


My doctor looked at my MRI scans and saw “activity” of viral damage in my brainstem. I had a bout with Bell’s Palsy about 3 months before this began, so another theory is that damage was done to my brainstep that caused this…and supposedly I have an extremely high level of antibodies to CMV virus (I’m like the 99% highest person out of half a million tested), so he thinks my body has been fighting this virus forever…maybe since birth…and he finds that meds that people have taken for schizophrenia, deplete these viral antibodies by 50% or more…so recommends a low dose of an antipsychotic…crazy huh?