Noise cancelling earphones or earbuds

Can Noise-Cancelling Earbuds Cause Vertigo?

Today’s technology has made it possible to take our music along with us wherever we go without disturbing others. And preventing others from disturbing us thanks to noise-cancellation technology!

One of the greatest to come out in the segment in recent times are the noise-cancelling wireless Bluetooth earbuds for they are small and compact, reducing the bulk of carrying headphones wherever we go.

But there are long-term damages that can come from having earbuds in your ears all the time, or even wearing headphones on top of them.

Turns out, that thing Grandpa said about having potatoes in your ears was pretty right on.

If you spend too much time with earbuds or headphones on, there could be some serious damages to your hearing, especially if you don’t watch the volume you’re tuning into.

They certainly have their good points, but do the downsides outweigh them? Many people wonder if noise-cancelling earbuds cause vertigo, among other things.

The answer is that it depends on how you’re using them. If you keep reading, you’ll find out more about what you can do to maintain your ear health for years to come while still enjoying your noise-cancelling earbuds.

Not sure what vertigo is? We’ll cover that first. Read on!

What Is Vertigo or Dizziness?

Sometimes, you don’t need to be listening to earbuds or headphones to find yourself with vertigo. It’s a very odd feeling, to say the least, one that makes you feel off-balance and rather dizzy. But it’s not like when you get up too fast or have been in the heat too long without enough hydration.

Vertigo is very distinctive in that you’ll feel like your entire surroundings are spinning, or that just your head is.

Most commonly, it’s associated with certain health conditions that affect the sensory nerve pathway, your brain, or your inner ear.

Sometimes, it’s very temporary. Other times, it’s long-term. It can happen to you at any age, though people over 65 were once the most prone to it.

Incidentally, vertigo has nothing to do with being afraid of heights though many people associate it with that because looking down from above can bring on dizziness.

Again, these are associated with problems in the inner ear and brain. With vertigo though, it can be caused by many conditions.

Ear conditions are often to blame, though to be certain what’s causing your vertigo, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.

To make matters even more dizzying, pardon the pun, vertigo itself can be a symptom of other conditions with its own symptoms.

■ What Are the General Symptoms of Vertigo?

If you have vertigo, you may have trouble with your balance and feel lightheaded. You may also be more prone to motion sickness.

Nausea followed by vomiting are other things that can come about from vertigo. Headaches, a full feeling in your ear, and even tinnitus, that ringing sound, can all be troubling signs that point to vertigo.

What distinguishes it from other bouts of dizzy spells and faintness is that it feels rotational.

So, what does this have to do with noise-cancelling earbuds? Keep reading and you’ll soon find out!

What Is the Connection between Vertigo and Earbuds?

Now that you know more about vertigo, we can discuss how it comes into play when you use those wireless earbuds. See, when you plug your ears up with earbuds into them, they seal into the inner ear. When you do this constantly and then blast forth your favorite tunes, you can injure the tender parts inside your ear including those little hair follicle cells and the nerves inside your ears too.

Vertigo is very disorienting, and you may have wondered what was going on the last time you cranked it up for an hour at the gym with your earbuds in.

When you walked out into the parking lot, removing your earbuds so you could drive responsibly, you may have felt the world seemingly lurch.

That wasn’t your imagination. That was vertigo brought on by altering the space in your head.

Wireless Bluetooth earbuds do a phenomenal job of putting us in our own heads which is wonderful when we want to block out the world.

The noise-cancelling variety adds even more hush, allowing us to tune into ourselves and our own personal soundtrack as we move along. But when that golden peace ends with the removal of the earbuds, we often feel misplaced.

Wondering why that is? That’s because these tiny little things were designed to block out that unwanted racket from around you.

Whether you use regular wireless earbuds or noise-cancelling ones though, if you’re wearing them too long or playing them too loud (or both!), you can cause major upset in your ears.

It’s even greater when they’re equipped with a mic for active noise cancellation (ANC) which combats the surrounding ambient noise with sound waves to cancel them out.

With this disturbance on a regular basis, it can damage the nerves in your ears and those hair cells. The louder you dial up the volume, the more the hair cells will bend so your brain can detect that sound.

With minimal exposure and reasonable volumes, this isn’t worrisome. However, most people rely on their wireless earbuds every day. Most people tend to wear them for longer than they should each day. And furthermore, most people tend to blast the volume, unaware that they’ll need to search for a different kind of earbud before they’re old… a hearing aid.

When you damage the nerves and hair cells in your ears, you can wind up with several types of ear conditions that will easily bring on vertigo.

Among them are labyrinthitis, vestibular neuronitis, and Meniere’s disease. Another way you can give yourself vertigo from using earbuds? By sharing them!

We know sharing means caring, but when it comes to earbuds, keep them to yourself or be sure to clean them very well after sharing them.

Even earbuds that you do keep to yourself can cause ear infections that may give you that funny vertigo feeling.

You should always make sure you’re taking good care of them for your health and hygiene.

How to Prevent Earbud-Related Vertigo from Occurring

There are some people out there that have vertigo unrelated to using earbuds or headphones. But if you’re an avid music listening that can’t go a day without your wireless noise-cancelling earbuds, then you should definitely keep on reading to find out how you can avoid catastrophe and protect yourself from vertigo.

These tips will also help you from damaging your ears to the point of no return, allowing you to enjoy your ability to hear.

The number one way to keep vertigo from happening to you is to avoid using your wireless earbuds on a constant basis.

Your ears need a break every now and then. You can’t tune out the real world all the time.

Wonderful as it ease to connect with your favorite musicians and hear every little intricacy in your favorite songs, your ears need some downtime from the noise, so be sure to give it to them.

And tied with that first point is turning down the volume. The length of time you listen with your earbuds shoved in your ear along with the volume you’re listening greatly impacts your hearing and your chances of vertigo.

To assure you’re not overdoing it, keep your device volume no more than 75 decibels. Go any louder, like say 110 decibels or 140 decibels and you’re going to lose your hearing.

For frame of reference, a rock concert that’s totally jamming comes in at around 100 decibels.

As we mentioned, cleaning your earbuds to keep from getting an infection is also important for preventing vertigo. Even if you never share them with anyone else, you should take the time to carefully clean them (which you can read about here!).

If you borrow them from a friend for a trip, perhaps to see if you like that brand and want to buy it yourself, make sure you clean those earbuds before putting them in your own ears. And do the kindness of cleaning them before you return them too.

This will prevent getting ear infections that can cause that telltale vertigo dizziness.

Worried about vertigo? You can do a few special exercises to help maintain your balance and ward off dizziness when it does strike.

There are three methods to try: Brandt-Daroff, Epley Maneuver, and Semont Maneuver.

■ Brandt-Daroff

Start off sitting in an upright position. Move into a lying-down position so that you lie down on one side. Your head should be at an upward direction, up to 45 degrees in angle.

Once done on one side, switch sides immediately after. For each position, hold it for about 30 seconds or until the vertigo disappears. Once it does, you can get back into an upright seated position.

■ Epley Maneuver:

For this next technique to get rid of vertigo, sit up on your bed upright. Turn your head to the same side as the ear that’s affecting you, about 45 degrees in angle.

Then, slowly lie down on the bed, lowering your head so it’s just slightly off the edge of the bed. Once in position, hold it for 30 seconds.

Once 30 seconds passes, turn your whole body to where your head currently faces and move your head so you’re facing down in the bed. Hold that for 30 seconds.

Get up after that to a sitting position on the edge of your bed, moving slowly until you’re fully upright.

■ Semont Maneuver

This maneuver involves sitting upright on the edge of your bed to start. You’ll then turn your head to the side with the affected ear at a 45-degree angle.

Then, immediately lie down on your side facing the direction of that affected ear for about 60 seconds.

While still keeping your head in place, switch to your other side rapidly and hold it for another 60 seconds.

Once complete, slowly move back into an upright seated position. To do it correctly, it should take 10 minutes while keeping your head level.

A consultation with a doctor can ensure you’re practicing these anti-vertigo positions properly.

How Do You Stop Vertigo Caused by Earbuds?

We’ve covered how to maneuver with exercises on getting rid of vertigo, but there are things you can do with your wireless Bluetooth earbuds to help you too.

We advise that even if you’ve never experienced vertigo while using your earbuds that you practice these tips to help you prevent hearing damage and protect your ear health.

Should you feel vertigo coming on while listening to your music through your earbuds, here’s what to do.

■ Lower the Volume or Turn It off Completely

When listening to music with your wireless earbuds, if you start feeling dizzy or like the environment is whirling and swirling, lower the volume.

Better yet, turn it off. It’s best to reduce the volume first, then switch it off rather quickly.

■ Unplug Your Wireless Earbuds

Once the sound is off, take the earbuds out of your ears. Your ears might be ringing initially, but it should dissipate in a few minutes.

■ Make Sure to Sit Down

After taking the wireless earbuds out of your ears, make sure to sit down promptly. Don’t attempt walking around as it can only make the vertigo worse.

You’ll find the dizziness diminish as you sit. Don’t change your body position quickly. Try to sit still and relax. Another thing… don’t look up.

Once you’ve been sitting, you can slowly move into a position of lying on your side to prevent falling over. Stay in this position until you feel better.

■ Talk to Your Doctor

Most cases of vertigo with wireless noise-cancelling earbuds will go away within a few minutes or even a few hours.

It depends on the individual. However, if you find that many hours later, you still have vertigo, especially if your symptoms are severe, you should call your doctor to get checked out.

Be Safe When Vertigo Affects You

There are other things you should do if you have vertigo caused by your wireless earbuds, especially if you’re not at home or in a safe space. In the interest of your safety and the safety of others, please follow these tips:

– Don’t drive or use heavy machinery when you feel dizzy.

– Should you be driving when vertigo comes on and you can’t get your earbuds out, reduce your speed, park your car, and try to relax. Don’t try to get out and stand up. Wait until the dizziness is gone.

– If you commute on a subway or by walking the busy city streets and you can’t find a seat, lean against a wall, post, tree, or anything else sturdy that you can find.

Don’t suddenly change positions. Make sure you take your earbuds out too.

– Keep those earbuds out of your ears after the vertigo passes. You shouldn’t use them again in the same day as it can bring vertigo right back.

To avoid having any of this happen to you in the first place, you should definitely reread our tips on how to prevent vertigo from earbuds.

How Long Should You Use Your Wireless Earbuds to Avoid Vertigo?

We know that the burning question on your mind is how long can you use those wireless earbuds each time before it can make your prone to vertigo?

Doctors suggest that you should never exceed 60% of the total sound volume for more than 60 minutes each day.

The louder you listen, the less time you should be listening with your earbuds.

If you keep the volume lower, you can enjoy your wireless noise-cancelling earbuds for longer stretches each day.

Ideally, if you want to keep up your ear health and avoid vertigo, you’ll keep track of the volume you turn it up to and limit your time using them so you can enjoy listening to music this way for years to come.

A Few More Tips to Protect Yourself from Headphone-Related Vertigo

Hearing loss through loud noises like blasting music into your ears via wireless earbuds takes a while.

Since it’s not sudden, most people don’t realize the damage is being done until further down the road when it’s too late.

The signs of hearing loss come on as a buzzing, ringing, or even roaring in your ears after hearing loud noises.

You may also find sounds to be muffled or distorted. It’s important to take care of your ear health now to avoid losing your hearing.

Make Sure You Use Your Earbuds the Right Way

You can still enjoy your wireless noise-cancelling Bluetooth earbuds f you use them properly. You’ll be able to completely prevent hearing loss this way.

Moderation is the key to using wireless earbuds. Keep the volume from being too loud and don’t leave your earbuds in your ears for too long.

Whether you’re jamming out to your favorite band’s new album, watching a movie on a portable device, or playing a video game, you can still immerse yourself in the experience even at 60% of that max volume level. You can still enjoy these things if you take time away from them too.

A great way to be sure you’re in the clear is to ask those around you if they hear what you’re listening to.

If they do, then you’re doing damage to your ears. If not, then you’re listening to it at an appropriate volume.

Don’t forget that one of the biggest dangers of listening to music too loudly with your wireless earbuds goes beyond hearing damage.

When you can’t hear what’s happening around you, it puts you in extreme danger for an accident.

Perhaps you wouldn’t listen to your earbuds while crossing the street or driving (we sure hope not!), but you might feel most comfortable going for a jog on the hiking and biking trail at your neighborhood park.

Even in that scenario though, you’re not the only person jogging. And if a cyclist should be trying to come by and shouting to you to look out, you won’t hear it.

You could be walking to your car at the gym and not notice someone waiting to mug you. There are so many reasons why you should keep the volume low enough while you’re out in the world. Be safe!


Noise-cancelling wireless earbuds can contribute to vertigo, but only if you’re not taking good care of how you’re using them.

If you listen to your music at a reasonable volume and keep from listening for too long at a time, you shouldn’t have any troubles.

You should also make sure you keep your earbuds clean. The gunk that can build up on there can lead to an ear infection which can most certainly give you vertigo.

Practice good hygiene for your ears and your earbuds and take care of your hearing to avoid experiencing vertigo.


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