Does Hearing Loss Cause Vertigo?

Once in a while I wake up in the morning and I know something is not right. My tinnitus is wailing, my head is woozy and the room is spinning. It’s going to be one of those days. Whenever this occurs (probably 2 or 3 times a year) I wonder if I have a form of Meniere’s disease. Vertigo is one of its primary symptoms. My doctors tell me “no” since my hearing loss does not fluctuate during these episodes, but I wonder. The good news is that my bouts are few and far between. Fingers crossed that it stays that way.

Living With Hearing Loss | A Bikram Yoga Blog

According to WebMD, vertigo is the sensation of spinning when you are still. You might feel like you are moving or that the room is circling around you. Neither is very pleasant. It reminds me of tinnitus, where you perceive a sound that does not exist. For me, the two often occur together.

My most recent bout occurred a few weeks ago. I had a busy day scheduled and didn’t have time for dizziness, so I ignored it and went to my morning yoga class as planned. Probably not the best idea. The class started fine, but after the first back bend, things took a turn for the worse. My head, which already felt swollen with sloshing liquid, became heavier and more unbalanced. It was as if all the fluid had shifted to one side, bringing my center of gravity along with it. I toppled over. Twice. Not my finest yoga moments.

Falling over in yoga may be an extreme example, but the unbalanced feeling is familiar to me. It often happens when I have a head cold, or ascend or descend elevation frequently in a short period of time. This can happen on airplane trips or even in the car driving up to higher elevation or back down again. Until my ears “pop” or acclimate to the different air pressure at the new altitude, I walk around in a fog — feeling deafer than normal, disoriented and dizzy. This can sometimes take several hours to correct itself.

When I am on an airplane, I use a couple of tricks to help relieve the pressure in my ears. I wonder if these would have helped with my latest bout of vertigo. The feeling of fullness and unsteadiness is similar, although less extreme. I will give them a try next time.

1. Swallowing: Drinking water or chewing gum during ascent and descent forces you to swallow, helping to unblock the Eustachian tube and stabilize the pressure in your ears. Munching on a light snack can also work.

2. Yawning: Opening your mouth as wide as possible for a fake yawn (often this can lead to real ones for me and also for my seat mates!) can help for the same reasons as swallowing.

3. Blowing: If neither of the first two methods work, I sometimes try blowing out my ears. I breathe in, pinch my nose tightly, close my mouth and try to force the air out of my nostrils. Since the nostrils are blocked by my pinching, this causes my ears to “pop.” I always start very gently and build up slowly to avoid overdoing it and damaging my ears. I know it has worked when I hear a squeal or popping sound.

For more suggestions on how to handle air travel with hearing loss visit Ears and Altitude on the American Academy of Otolaryngology website.

Readers, do you ever experience vertigo? What are your tips?

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33 thoughts on “Does Hearing Loss Cause Vertigo?

  1. This has happened to me twice when I woke up. It involved (the culmination of) nausea and I couldn’t move for hours because I couldn’t stop the spinning. Since then I’ve found some tips through the internet: Never lie completely flat–(use more than one pillow but make sure the top half of your body is inclined and not just your neck or that will be another problem). Stay hydrated. Seek therapy if possible. My general doc has given me a prescription for Vestibular Therapy. That’s my next step.

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  2. I was going to ask if it involved nausea. I have had several incidents (spread out over time) where I have been dizzy and started throwing up. It usually lasts for the day and then I am fine the next day just a little weak.

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  3. in early 40’s, I had roughly half a dozen episodes, which completely stopped me cold. Really hard to keep standing up. I learned to recognize when it was coming about an hour before it literally floored me. Except for that one year, it’s so far never returned. I don’t understand but thankful the sleeping dog has remained so.

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  4. Yes, a few times in 15 years of hearing aids, most recently the last two weeks of October I felt a bit of Vertigo every day. My ears seemed extremely moist during that time. I rode it out but will mention it to my audiologist next time I see her. Hearing loss is quite a challenge in all senses of the word.

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  5. This is what makes me wonder about getting a CI. I’ve heard that vertigo’s one of the side effects and I’d rather be deaf than have that horrible sensation for a prolonged time. It’s totally disabling and horrible. Now I only get it very rarely but the thought of it lasting is horrible.

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      • I have vertigo caused by 3 things, Meniere’s, recurring BPPV, and damage when I got my CI’s. Mostly because of Meniere’s.
        I can’t imagine trying to do yoga during an attack.
        I do have severe disequilibrium that causes a lot of severe dizziness but it’s not vertigo. Sometimes I have vertigo where I feel like I’m moving but I’m not, I don’t see it, I just feel like I’m free falling. It’s horrible.
        I hope you never have worse than you have and I hope b it doesn’t come back. Vertigo sucks.

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  6. I’ve suffered with dizziness and imbalance for the greater part of five years now. Went to bed fine one day and woke up like this and haven’t been fine since. They do feel it is connected to my hearing loss but I never knew it was so widely experienced . They have ruled out it having anything to do with my ears- more likely neuro that affects both hearing and balance. A delightful (cough, cough) Scooby-Doo mystery. 😔

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  7. I would recommend anyone suffering from vertigo to see a neurootologist. They can best determine what is the cause of it. Better than an ENT or a audiologist. Hopefully if you are suffering from vertigo it is the treatable kind and not meniere’s disease like what I have. For me vertigo proceeded the hearing loss.

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  8. I had motion sickness like symptoms for 2-3 days, two separate times in October. No drug changes. No different foods. I’m pretty sure that it has something to do with my inner ears and hearing loss.

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  9. I had cochlear implants in 2009 and 2010. Never had vertigo before surgeries. Have had 3 horrible bouts of vertigo that were resolved with visits to neurologist putting me on migraine RX which helped tremendously. I have suffered from migraines all my life but never had vertigo like this until after the CI’s. It appears that stress triggers the vertigo as well but once it kicks in it stays around for about two weeks even with RX.

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  10. Yes, I have experienced this since the onset of my hearing loss. Not as much since I have learned how to manage it now. Getting out of bed was always when it would start so I now do it slowly…and roll over before getting up, When I feel it coming on I lower my head and touch my chest with my chin and hold that position for a bit. It always helps. I also do not get these attacks of dizziness much at all anymore due to taking Apple Cider Vinegar everyday.

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  11. Over the years, I have noticed a steady deterioration of my sense of balance. When hiking on irregular terrain, I now use an adjustable stick. That said – after my CI operation, I experienced a period of severe vestibular episodes. I got out of bed one morning and just kept going across the room ending up spread out on the floor. A day or so later I was also doing some yoga-like stretches on the floor and when I tried to get up it was like I was falling down a hill: I just kept going until I could grab something. The room wasn’t spinning – I was. I did a series of PT sessions and the condition slowly diminished. Vertigo? I’m not sure but it was serious. My personal diagnosis is that any time you go messing about in the inner ear you are going to have dizzy problems. I am very careful now when turning or changing from sitting to standing. At my age 85 this coming Monday (presents appreciated 🙂 ) – some balance issues are not unusual I am told. I also find that regular exercise – walking rapidly, climbing our local mountain, ridding my bike – helps everything including balance. Whether what I am experiencing is vertigo or not is uncertain but it is probably related.

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  12. Shari, I hadn’t seen this when I posted my own comments on vertigo a couple of weeks ago on AARP (now at katherinebouton.com “Deaf and Dizzy: Is it Meniere’s?”)
    https://katherinebouton.com/2016/11/27/deaf-and-dizzy-is-it-menieres/
    Most often it’s not Meniere’s. Migraine-associated vertigo is far more common. But if you have unilateral hearing loss, tinnitus, fullness of the ear and fluctuating hearing (during a vertigo attack), it probably is. It doesn’t really matter what the diagnosis is, though, the symptoms and suggested treatments are the same.
    Mine isn’t Meniere’s. I had that diagnosis for decades, but wiser doctors asked more pertinent questions. Bilateral loss, no tinnitus, no fullness. Not Meniere’s.
    But vertigo! Yes, alas. Incapacitating to the point where I’ve ended up in the emergency room. Weekly and more for almost a year, passed out for hours, vomiting. My first episode was at a black tie gala! Memorable. I mostly now have it under control. My sympathies to all who suffer.

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