Can headphones cause vertigo?

Have you ever experienced a dizzy spell or the sensation of spinning after a prolonged listening session with your headphones? 

The question that might cross your mind is, “Can headphones cause vertigo?

While headphones have become an integral part of our daily lives, offering immersive audio experiences, there’s a growing concern about their potential impact on our balance and equilibrium. 

Let’s unravel the mysteries behind this query and explore whether the seemingly harmless act of listening through headphones could be linked to episodes of vertigo.

What is vertigo?

Vertigo is a condition characterized by a sensation of spinning or dizziness. It often gives individuals the feeling that they or their surroundings are moving, even when they are stationary. 

This disorienting sensation is closely linked to issues with the inner ear, affecting the body’s ability to maintain balance and spatial orientation. 

Vertigo can be caused by various factors, including inner ear disorders, certain medical conditions, or disturbances in the vestibular system. 

Common symptoms include dizziness, nausea, and a sense of unsteadiness. 

It’s essential to differentiate between vertigo and other forms of dizziness to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment.

Read: Can wearing headphones cause headaches?

Can headphones cause vertigo?

Yes, headphones can potentially cause vertigo, although the relationship is complex and not universally experienced. 

While there is no direct evidence establishing headphones as a primary cause of vertigo, certain factors associated with headphone use may contribute to sensory disturbances in the inner ear, leading to feelings of dizziness or imbalance.

Prolonged use of headphones, particularly at high volume levels, can impact the delicate structures of the inner ear responsible for balance and spatial orientation.

 The inner ear’s sensitivity to sound and its connection to the vestibular system might play a role in the development of vertigo-like symptoms in some individuals.

Can headphones cause vertigo?

It’s crucial to consider various factors, including the volume levels, the duration of headphone use, and individual susceptibility. 

Higher volumes and extended usage can potentially disrupt the inner ear’s equilibrium, leading to temporary sensations of dizziness.

Moreover, a study titled “Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo after use of noise-canceling headphones” suggests a correlation between the use of noise-canceling headphones and the onset of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). 

BPPV is a specific type of vertigo characterized by brief episodes of dizziness triggered by changes in head position. 

The study implies that prolonged use of noise-canceling headphones, potentially involving specific head movements, may contribute to the development of BPPV.

While this research sheds light on a potential association, it’s crucial to note that individual responses to headphone use can vary.

Factors such as headphone design, duration of use, and individual susceptibility play a role in determining the impact on inner ear health.

How to Prevent Vertigo from Headphones? 

Vertigo, a disorienting sensation of spinning or dizziness, has been associated with headphone use, especially when certain precautions are overlooked. 

Fortunately, there are practical steps that can be taken to prevent vertigo and ensure a harmonious relationship between headphones and ear health.

Preventing Vertigo from Headphones:

To safeguard against the potential onset of vertigo due to headphone use, several preventive measures can be adopted:

Volume Control:

Adjusting volume levels to a comfortable and safe range is paramount. Listening at excessively high volumes can impact the inner ear and contribute to vertigo.

Limit Duration of Use:

Taking regular breaks and setting a time limit for continuous headphone usage helps prevent sensory overload, allowing the inner ear to recover.

Educate yourself on safe listening practices, such as following the 60/60 rule: listening at 60% volume for a maximum of 60 minutes at a time.

Be Mindful of Headphone Design:

Experiment with different headphone designs, considering open-back headphones to reduce the risk of creating a pressurized environment in the ear.

Take Breaks and Move:

Incorporate breaks into listening sessions, during which standing up, stretching, and moving around can enhance blood circulation and reduce dizziness.

Related: Can Headphones Indent Your Skull?

Check for Ear Infections:

Ensure ears are free from infections, as using headphones with existing ear issues may increase the risk of vertigo.

Avoid Using Headphones During Physical Activities:

Refrain from using headphones during activities involving sudden head movements, which may contribute to vertigo.

Consider Noise-Canceling Alternatives:

For those prone to vertigo, consider alternatives to noise-canceling headphones, as specific head movements associated with noise cancellation might contribute to certain types of vertigo.

By incorporating these practices into your headphone usage routine, you can enjoy your audio experiences while minimizing the risk of vertigo and prioritizing the health of your ears. 

Always be attentive to your body’s signals and seek professional advice if you experience persistent discomfort.

FAQs: Can headphones cause vertigo?

Can headphones cause inner ear problems?

Prolonged and high-volume headphone use can potentially contribute to inner ear problems.

The inner ear, responsible for balance and spatial orientation, may be affected by excessive sound levels, leading to issues like hearing loss or imbalance.

Does music make vertigo worse?

In some cases, music with certain frequencies or loudness levels might exacerbate vertigo symptoms. 

Sensitivity to sound varies among individuals, and factors like the type of music and volume can influence the impact on vertigo.

What are the side effects of headphones?

Side effects of headphone use can include hearing loss, ear infections, and discomfort. Prolonged exposure to high volumes may contribute to inner ear issues. 

Additionally, wearing headphones for extended periods might cause pressure on the ear canal, leading to discomfort.

Why do I feel dizzy when I listen to music?

Feeling dizzy while listening to music could be attributed to several factors.

High volume levels and prolonged headphone use may impact the inner ear, disrupting its equilibrium and leading to sensations of dizziness. 

It’s advisable to moderate volume levels and take breaks to alleviate such symptoms. If dizziness persists, consulting with a healthcare professional is recommended.


In conclusion, the inquiry into whether headphones can cause vertigo sheds light on an intriguing intersection between technology and our sensory well-being. 

As our reliance on headphones grows, understanding the potential effects on our balance becomes paramount. 

The question “Can headphones cause vertigo?” prompts a closer look at our audio habits and the need for balance in enjoying immersive sound experiences without compromising our health. 

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