While it’s not the most pleasant feeling, you’ve probably experienced dizziness before. Whether you simply stood up too quickly or just hopped off an amusement park ride, the feeling of the world spinning around you typically clears up quickly. However, the sensation of vertigo may not always have such an obvious trigger, and sometimes it can last longer than you’d like.
Because of the connection between vertigo and the inner ear, you may worry that wearing hearing aids is causing you to experience vertigo or that your vertigo will worsen if you start wearing hearing aids. But wearing hearing aids does not cause vertigo. To learn about the relationship between the inner ear and vertigo, read on.
Vertigo is the sensation that you are spinning, or the world is spinning around you, even when there is no actual movement occurring. The sensation of movement can also be accompanied by a loss of balance.
It’s important to understand that vertigo itself is not a disease, but it can be a symptom of other underlying conditions, many of which are related to the ears. In fact, there are two main types of vertigo: central vertigo, which occurs from an issue affecting the brain (such as a stroke), and peripheral vertigo, which relates to the inner ear.
The inner ear is an important part of the body’s vestibular system, a sensory system that helps provide your brain information about balance and movement. Inside the inner ear are loop-shaped canals called semicircular canals, that contain fine hair cells and fluid. The hair cells are like sensors that send messages to your brain when they sense up and down, side to side, or tilting movements.
Damage to the delicate system within the inner ear can lead to balance trouble or vertigo. The following conditions related to the inner ear can be causes of vertigo:
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV, is one of the most common causes of vertigo. BPPV is a condition that occurs when tiny calcium carbonate crystals in the semicircular canals, called otoconia, break loose and float freely. Because of this, certain head movements may trigger the feeling of movement and vertigo.
Labyrinthitis is an infection of the inner ear that causes inflammation of the labyrinth, which contains the semicircular canals and other parts of the vestibular system. Labyrinthitis typically only occurs in one ear. When the labyrinth or one of the nerves inside it is infected and inflamed, it can’t send signals to the brain properly. The brain must then interpret signals from one healthy and one inflamed inner ear, leading to dizziness.
Similar to labyrinthitis, vestibular neuritis is caused by swelling in the inner ear. However, in this case, only the vestibular nerve is affected. This condition can result in prolonged vertigo but doesn’t usually affect hearing.
While vertigo and the inner ear go hand-in-hand, hearing aids are not the culprit of vertigo. If you are new to wearing hearing aids, you might experience an adjustment period as you get used to the sensation of wearing and hearing through hearing aids. However, there is not significant evidence that hearing aids cause vertigo or balance issues—they may actually improve balance as hearing improves!