Unraveling the Mystery: Do Hearing Aids Trigger Dizziness?

Hearing aids do not cause dizziness

Experiencing dizziness or vertigo can be a challenging and unpleasant experience, leaving you searching for answers and potential treatments. If you wear hearing aids, you may question whether they could be a contributing factor.

Hearing aids would be an extremely low risk of causing dizziness and generally, any doctor would tell you that they are not the cause.

While millions of people wear hearing aids without experiencing dizziness or vertigo, there are individuals who claim that their hearing aids trigger these symptoms. As an audiologist, I have delved into the research to explore the possibilities and theories surrounding the relationship between hearing aids and dizziness.

Hearing Aids and Dizziness: Unlikely Connection

The inner ear, also known as the cochlea, consists of two parts: the hearing portion and the vestibular portion. Both sections transmit information to the brain via the VIII cranial nerve. Any abnormalities in the vestibular system often result in vertigo. However, hearing aids lack the ability to directly stimulate the vestibular system.

Research has actually shown that hearing aids can benefit the vestibular system, enhancing balance and reducing the risk of falls. A study involving 14 participants over the age of 65 examined their stability while wearing hearing aids compared to not wearing them. Interestingly, the participants exhibited greater stability while wearing their hearing aids, although they did not perceive any noticeable difference.

hearing aid don't make you dizzy

According to Timothy E. Hullar, the author of the study, “The participants appeared to be using the sound information coming through their hearing aids as auditory reference points or landmarks to help maintain balance. It’s a bit like using your eyes to tell where you are in space. If we turn out the lights, people sway a little bit — more than they would if they could see. This study suggests that opening your ears also gives you information about balance.”

What to Do If You Suspect Your Hearing Aid Is Causing Dizziness

If you have experienced vertigo and believe your hearing aids may be contributing to the problem, consider trying different styles or types of hearing aids. For example:

  • If you use a receiver-in-canal (RIC) device, consult your audiologist about switching dome sizes or earmold styles.
  • If that doesn’t alleviate the issue, try a custom-fit earpiece.
  • If you wear an in-the-ear hearing aid, consider having it remade with a shorter canal.

If you have exhausted these options without success, it is advisable to consult with an audiologist to do vestibular testing or an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist to explore alternative solutions such as a bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA), which bypasses the ear canal.

Exploring Possible Causes

While the research literature does not support a strong correlation between hearing aids and vertigo, it is worth considering some theoretical possibilities for those who experience dizziness while using hearing aids.

Tullio Phenomenon

The Tullio Phenomenon refers to a condition where sound induces vertigo, dizziness, and nausea. It may also lead to nystagmus, characterized by involuntary eye movements. This phenomenon typically occurs in medical ear conditions such as superior semicircular canal dehiscence, perilymph fistula, post fenestration surgery, and vestibulofibrosis. The most common cause is perilymph fistula.

While hearing aids can exacerbate the symptoms of Tullio Phenomenon, they do not directly cause dizziness. If you suspect this phenomenon, you can test it by removing your hearing aids and creating a loud noise to see if it triggers dizziness.

Pressure on the Tympanic Membrane

The tympanic membrane, commonly known as the eardrum, can cause discomfort, pain, or dizziness if subjected to pressure. However, in general, hearing aids do not exert pressure on the eardrum. The ear canal, where hearing aids are placed, is typically not deep enough to reach the eardrum, and the devices themselves often have vents to prevent air pressure build-up.

pressure on tympanic membrane

In rare cases, if the hearing aids are not properly cleaned and earwax obstructs the vents, pressure could potentially build up. However, it is highly unlikely that this alone would cause dizziness. Instances where a dome falls off and gets lodged in the ear canal, leading to dizziness, are also extremely uncommon.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can hearing damage cause vertigo?

Hearing loss alone does not cause vertigo or a spinning sensation. However, both vertigo and hearing loss can be symptoms of the same underlying disorder.

Can fluid in the ear make you dizzy?

Fluid in the outer ear can cause dizziness, especially if it exerts pressure on the eardrum or is at a different temperature than the body. When the fluid is warm or cool, it can create a convection current in the vestibular system, leading to a sensation of vertigo. Once the fluid reaches body temperature, the vertigo should subside.

Will hearing aids help with vertigo?

While hearing aids have not been shown to alleviate vertigo symptoms directly, research suggests that they can improve overall balance and help prevent falls, as discussed earlier in this article.

Jonathan Javid Au.D.

Jonathan Javid Au.D., a seasoned audiologist with an extensive background in the field of audiology. With over 11 years of invaluable clinical experience, Jonathan has dedicated his career to helping individuals enhance their hearing and improve their quality of life.

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