Yes, earbuds can cause vertigo.
The ebb and flow of the fluid in the semicircular canal causes dizziness, nausea and imbalance when it is disrupted by excessive movement.
There are several ways that earbuds can disrupt the normal balance system.
Most importantly, an object in one ear (like an earbud) will cause a difference in the pressure between the two ears, leading to a sense of imbalance and loss of equilibrium.
- Additionally, when you put something small in one of your ears (like an earbud), this will lead to a difference in sound waves coming into each ear, again disrupting balance and equilibrium.
One last way that earbuds can cause vertigo is by interrupting or inhibiting the normal function of the labyrinth.
There are two parts to the labyrinth
- The bony labyrinth (made up of bones in your skull) and
- The membranous labyrinth (the fluid-filled inner ear).
When you put an object into your ear (like an earbud), it can make the bones in your skull move and change their shape, which in turn changes the pressure of the fluid in your inner ear.
This is how putting anything in your ear disrupts balance and equilibrium.
It is not uncommon for people with a history of chronic ear infections to experience vertigo when they put in earplugs, which has to do with the same disruption of fluid flow.
Earbud Precautions to prevent Vertigo:
Some precautions you should take with earbuds to avoid vertigo are as follows: –
1) Use higher impedance headphones. Higher the impedance, lower the volume, safer the ear.
The required impedance depends on your age and sound pressure level tolerance. According to Ohm’s law, Playback equipment impedance = Age of listener + Sound Pressure Level Tolerance
2) Do not put too much load on your ears.
This is especially true for younger people who haven’t yet developed the muscles in their ears to handle sound pressure levels.
3) Keep the volume within limits. The safe level is about 60% of what you are comfortable with, or 80 to 85dB SPL max for younger people.
If you are older, you should be careful at lower volumes. Also wear headphones only on one ear if your ears are very sensitive.
Never play music through your earphones at full volume, that’s just asking for trouble.
4) If you can hear the music in one ear only while wearing headphones, then push the plug to one side of the headphone jack.
This should fix it. In case this doesn’t work or if you have a very low hearing threshold in your ears, then you should not use headphones at all.
5) If your problem persists even after these precautions, then stop using earphones and switch to headhones or external speakers for a while.
If you must wear earbuds, do so for as less time as possible and also take frequent breaks. It’s better than wearing them forever.
If you are in doubt about earbuds, headphones or cans being good for your health, consult a doctor.
If you want to prevent yourself from getting vertigo attacks, then stop using earphones immediately.
It seems that extended usage of earbuds can cause temporary or permanent damage to the tiny hairs in your cochlea (inner ear) which take care of your sense of balance.
If you are experiencing vertigo due to the usage of earphones, then get yourself checked by a doctor before it becomes serious. Better safe than sorry.
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