Vertigo is a condition that affects a person’s orientation, leading to dizziness, spinning, and loss of balance. It can be caused by several factors, including inner ear problems, head injury, and side effects of medication. Recently, there have been concerns about hearing aids triggering vertigo. In this article, we will discuss if there is a link between hearing aids and vertigo and what can be done to manage the symptoms.
What is vertigo?
Vertigo is a type of dizziness characterized by an illusion of movement. People with vertigo often experience the feeling of spinning, tilting or swaying. It is not the same as lightheadedness or a feeling of faintness. Vertigo can occur due to various factors, such as:
- Inner ear problems such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), vestibular neuronitis, and Meniere’s disease
- Infections or inflammation
- Head injury
- Side effects of medication
- Stroke or brain tumor
Can hearing aids cause vertigo?
There is no definitive answer to this question. Some people may experience vertigo when they start using hearing aids or adjust to a new set of hearing aids. Others may not experience any problems. The relationship between hearing aids and vertigo is complex and may vary depending on several factors, such as:
- The type of hearing aid (in-the-ear, behind-the-ear, or receiver-in-canal)
- The degree of hearing loss
- The individual’s sensitivity to changes in sound
- Whether there are any underlying inner ear problems
How do hearing aids work?
Hearing aids are electronic devices that amplify incoming sounds to make them louder and more audible to people with hearing loss. They consist of a microphone, an amplifier, and a receiver. The microphone captures sound waves, which are then converted into electrical signals by the amplifier. The receiver converts these electrical signals back into sound waves, which are delivered to the ear through a speaker or earbud.
How can hearing aids trigger vertigo?
When a person starts using hearing aids, the amplification of sound can be overwhelming, especially if they have not heard certain sounds for a long time. The brain may need time to adjust to the new level of auditory input, leading to dizziness or vertigo. Additionally, some people may be sensitive to changes in pressure or temperature, which can be caused by wearing hearing aids. Inner ear problems, such as BPPV, can also be aggravated by the use of hearing aids due to changes in body position or head movement.
How to manage symptoms of vertigo caused by hearing aids?
If you experience vertigo or dizziness after starting to use hearing aids, there are several things you can do to manage the symptoms:
- Gradually increase the amount of time you wear your hearing aids and the level of amplification over several days or weeks, depending on how long it takes for you to adjust, to avoid overwhelming your brain with too much auditory input at a time.
- Clean your hearing aids regularly to prevent any buildup of earwax or moisture, which can lead to ear infections or inflammation.
- Practice good posture and avoid sudden head movements to reduce the risk of triggering BPPV.
- Consult your doctor if you experience severe or persistent vertigo, as it may be a sign of an underlying condition that requires treatment.
The bottom line
There is no direct link between hearing aids and vertigo, but some people may experience dizziness or spinning when they start using hearing aids or adjust to a new set. The relationship between hearing aids and vertigo is complex and may depend on several factors, such as the type of hearing aid, the degree of hearing loss, and whether there are any underlying inner ear problems. If you experience vertigo or dizziness after starting to use hearing aids, it is essential to take steps to manage the symptoms and seek medical advice if necessary.
What are the common symptoms of vertigo?
The common symptoms of vertigo include dizziness, spinning, lightheadedness, loss of balance or coordination, nausea, and vomiting.
What is BPPV, and how is it related to vertigo?
BPPV, or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, is a type of inner ear problem that causes brief episodes of vertigo triggered by changes in head position. It occurs when small calcium crystals within the ear become dislodged and move into the wrong part of the ear. BPPV can be managed by a technique known as the Epley maneuver, and it is not usually a serious condition.
How long does it take to adjust to wearing hearing aids?
The time it takes to adjust to wearing hearing aids varies depending on several factors, such as the type of hearing aid, the degree of hearing loss, and the individual’s ability to adapt to changes in sound. It can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to adjust fully to hearing aids.
What should I do if I experience severe or persistent vertigo?
If you experience severe or persistent vertigo, it is essential to seek medical advice as it may be a sign of an underlying condition that requires treatment. Your doctor may refer you to an ear, nose, and throat specialist or a neurologist.
Are there any alternative treatments for vertigo?
There are several alternative treatments for vertigo, such as vestibular rehabilitation therapy, acupuncture, and herbal remedies. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support their effectiveness, and it is essential to consult your doctor before trying any alternative treatment.
Can I still use hearing aids if I have vertigo?
Yes, you can still use hearing aids if you have vertigo, but it is essential to manage the symptoms to avoid any discomfort or imbalance. Follow the tips outlined above to manage the symptoms and seek medical advice if necessary.
- “Vertigo.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 17 Nov. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vertigo/symptoms-causes/syc-20370055.
- “Hearing Aids and Vertigo: Explained by Craig F. Kasper.” Audicus, 25 Oct. 2019, www.audicus.com/hearing-aids-and-dizziness/.
- “Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV).” Cedars-Sinai, www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/b/benign-paroxysmal-positional-vertigo-bppv.html