Can Noise Cancelling Headphones Cause Vertigo?

If you are a fan of noise cancelling headphones, you may want to read this. Noise cancelling headphones are a great way to reduce the amount of sound that enters your ears, but Can Noise Cancelling Headphones Cause Vertigo? 

Yes, believe it! They can. A recent study found that users of noise cancelling headphones are more likely to experience vertigo. The study looked at how people responded to loud noises with and without noise cancelling headphones.

This article will explain why this happens and what you can do to avoid it.

Can Noise Cancelling Headphones Cause Vertigo

What Are Noise Cancelling Headphones?

Noise cancelling headphones are headphones that use active noise control to eliminate surrounding ambient noise. 

They produce sound waves with the opposite phase of the ambient noise, effectively canceling them.

This is good for your ears because it reduces the loudness of your surroundings. Without this technology, you would have to turn up the volume of your music significantly to drown out the ambient noise.

Noise cancelling headphones come in two different types:

1. Active noise cancelling headphones: These use a microphone to pick up background noise, an amplifier to process the noise waves, and a speaker to generate sound waves with the opposite phase.

2. Passive noise cancelling headphones: These aren’t noise cancelling headphones at all! They’re just regular headphones that physically block out noise from their seal around or in your ears.

How Does Noise Cancelling Headphones Work?

Noise cancelling headphones work by creating sound waves with the same amplitude but the opposite phase of the ambient noise around you.

If we were to look at each frequency band in isolation, we would see that the waveforms of the sound produced by the headphones and the ambient noise are almost identical.

If these soundwaves are added together, they cancel out because their amplitudes are equal but opposite in phase. And this is precisely what the microphone and speaker in noise cancelling headphones do.

The mic picks up surrounding ambient noise, whereas the speaker emits sound waves with an opposite phase.

Can Noise Cancelling Headphones Cause Vertigo?

Yes, they can. Noise cancelling headphones use active noise control to reduce the loudness of your environment, but this technology can cause a balance disorder known as vertigo when misused.

An issue usually causes vertigo in one or more parts of your inner ear. It’s characterized by a spinning sensation and an unsteady gait (walking).

Here are some causes of vertigo caused by noise cancelling headphones:

1. The volume on your headphones is too high: This happens when you set the importance of your noise cancelling headphones too loud.

2. You use them for prolonged periods: Noise cancelling headphones are meant to be used over short periods, not all day long. Try limiting their usage and see how it goes.

3. They don’t fit correctly: If the headphones don’t fit snugly and firmly around your ears, there’s a chance they can fall off during use. This further increases your risk of experiencing vertigo.

4. You’re listening to music at high frequencies: Noise cancelling headphones work best between 100Hz and 1000Hz. So you should avoid listening to higher frequencies (like treble) at all costs.

5. You’re experiencing a common cold or flu: Vertigo can be caused by an ear infection, but it’s usually associated with the common cold and flu.

6. You’ve recently had surgery on your inner ear: If you’ve just had surgery on your inner ear, noise cancelling headphones could cause a severe imbalance.

7. You have migraine with vertigo: This is one of the most common types of vertigo, and it can be triggered by noise cancelling headphones.

8. You’re wearing earplugs simultaneously: If you’re wearing earplugs while using noise cancelling headphones, they won’t cancel out the ambient noise properly.

9. You have Meniere’s disease: This is another type of disorder in your inner ear, characterized by vertigo when you change positions or turn your head quickly.

10. You have motion sickness: Motion sickness can cause severe vertigo, which is why this should be avoided at all costs.

How to Prevent Vertigo Caused by Noise Cancelling Headphones?

To avoid vertigo when using noise cancelling headphones, pay attention to the following tips:

1. Make sure the headphones are compatible with your characteristics

Put on noise cancelling headphones, then do some movements. If you feel uncomfortable for any reason, immediately stop using them to avoid health problems.

You can try different positions of earmuffs or even change models to ensure good grip and comfort.

2. listen at a safe volume

Do not set the volume too high to avoid hearing damage. According to experts, we should fix noise cancelling headphones at about 80% of the maximum volume.

If you do not hear any background music when using noise cancelling headphones, it means your current listening volume is safe and close to the average level.

3. Keep an eye on your surroundings

Do not listen to music in noisy environments or miss important external auditory information. For example, traffic noise warns of dangers on the road so that you can immediately find a safe place.

4. Check your ears before and after using noise cancelling headphones

Your ear health will suffer if the size of the earmuffs doesn’t fit your ear canal or you don’t wear it properly.

Check up on your ears occasionally to ensure there is no abnormal color, swelling, or discharge of earwax.

If anything is wrong with your ears, stop using noise cancelling headphones and go to the hospital immediately for treatment.

5. Do not use noise cancelling headphones at high altitudes

If you are on a plane or high-speed train, do not use noise cancelling headphones. When climbing to a higher altitude, make sure there is enough oxygen and avoid straining yourself while moving at high speeds.

Whether you wear earmuffs or not, it’s best for pregnant women to avoid using them when traveling at high altitudes.

6. Prevent ear diseases

Ear infections are most common in children. Parents should take children for regular medical checkups to ensure normal development of the auditory organs.

If your ears produce more earwax than usual, do not forcefully remove them with cotton swabs or clean the ears with water when showering.

It’s best to go to a doctor for professional cleaning and diagnosis.

7. Drink water and eat nutritious foods

Maintain a balanced diet and drink enough water to keep your ears hydrated and moist. Do not listen to loud sounds for too long, such as the noise from lawnmowers or loudspeakers, since this can cause ear damage.

8. Protect hearing awareness

If you experience ringing in the ears, dizziness, or pain after using earmuffs, stop using them immediately.

Hearing protection devices are designed to reduce sound pressure and volume but not eliminate them.

Pay attention to whether there is abnormal external noise when using headphones. Set the volume to 60-70% of the maximum level (converted from the actual volume) if you’re at home.

9. Clean your ears regularly

Wearing earmuffs or earplugs can cause earwax to accumulate in the auditory canal. Check your ears before and after using them, and clean out any excess wax with wet cotton swabs.

Do not use dry cotton swabs since they may push the wax deeper into your auditory canal. Check with a doctor if there is abnormal earwax production.


Noise cancelling headphones reduce background noise and give you better sound quality. However, you should pay attention to safety precautions when using them.

If this doesn’t work, I recommend that you see a professional about your condition since it doesn’t seem normal if it persists for so long.

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