Can Bone Conduction Headphones Cause Vertigo?

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Bone conduction headphones provide a safer means of listening to music than conventional headphones.

Bone conduction headphones have also provided previously hearing-impaired people with the ability to utilize and enjoy audio just as a normal person would.

But for all their benefits, bone conduction headphones can cause minor discomfort or health issues in certain users, such as vertigo, which is a common complaint.

In this article, we’ll examine whether bone conduction headphones can cause vertigo in humans.

We’ll also provide some quick solutions for preventing and treating vertigo and its symptoms. 

Can Bone Conduction Headphones Cause Vertigo?

Bone conduction headphones have been known to cause vertigo in some headphone users. Their design leaves the ear open to outside aural interference.

This interference causes an imbalance of fluids within the ear muscles in certain users, which then causes their balance to be thrown off.

There are certain preventative measures that some users can take to prevent or remedy the vertigo symptoms brought on by using headphones.

Additionally, certain headphone models are designed to prevent vertigo. 

How Do Bone Conduction Headphones Work?

Bone conduction headphones use vibration technology. Most bone conduction headphones are designed with a special pad that is placed in front of the tragus flap on your ear.

A converter in the headphones takes the audio signal from playback devices and turns them into vibrations, which are sent through the bones of your skull.

Your auditory nerves then receive this information and translate it in the same fashion as regular audio signals. A simple example of this same process can be seen by scratching the top of your head. The audio you hear is not coming directly through your ears but from the vibrations caused by the scratches. 

How Can Bone Conduction Headphones Cause Vertigo? 

Vertigo is described as an inner ear congenital condition and is a fairly common occurrence among certain human beings. 1 in every 100 people on earth experience vertigo from loud noises or other causes. 

The condition is caused by a thinning of the bone along the inner ear lining, which leads to an imbalance in the way certain sounds are received and processed.

Your ears are responsible for balance and any minor offset can throw them off. Bone conduction headphones can cause vertigo in people prone to this condition, especially if they subject themselves to loud noise levels from their headphones. 

Common Vertigo Symptoms 

  • Headaches  – The imbalance caused by vertigo can lead to pressure building up within certain areas of the skull. This pressure may cause minor to severe headaches around the temple area, or sometimes around the jawline and occipital bones. 
  • Dizziness – Since vertigo is related to imbalance, one of the earliest present symptoms is spatial disorientation. In extreme cases of vertigo, some sufferers even fall or collapse from dizziness. 
  • Nausea – The imbalance and disorientation brought on by vertigo can also make certain users feel nauseous, much like motion or seasickness.  
  • Sore Eyes/Blurred Vision – When Vertigo occurs, there is a clash between the improper information that the ears receive and what the eyes are processing. This inconsistency can sometimes cause blurry vision for certain users, often to the point of discomfort. 

Tips For Using Headphones That Treat/Prevent Vertigo

  • Safe Sound Levels – The simplest precaution you can take when using your headphones is to operate them at a safe sound level. While some headphone manufacturers often exceed volume safety limitations to outperform each other, most recommend a safe listening level to their users. 
  • Take Breaks – Vertigo can sometimes occur simply from excessive use of headphones, even at a safe listening level. It’s always wise to give your ears a break after using your headphones every hour or so, whether you’re using them for phone calls, video conferences, watching movies, or listening to music. This is especially important for owners of noise-canceling headphones due to the way noise-canceling headphones use certain frequencies to drown out background noise, resulting in occasional ear fatigue.
  • Pause, Relax, Breathe – If you experience an onset of vertigo, there are a few minor steps you can take to treat the symptoms. Find an area close by to sit down, and squat toward the ground to prevent yourself from leaning over. Once you’re grounded, you can take a few slow deep breaths with your eyes closed until the feeling subsides. 
  • The Home Epley Method – The Home Epley method is a postural, self-treatment technique that you can use to help treat vertigo. Start by sitting on the edge of a bed and turning your head to one side. Slowly lie back and once you’re fully reclined, turn your head to either side until the feeling has withdrawn. 

Final Thoughts

Vertigo is an unfortunate occurrence brought about by a subtle glitch in human design. There are no official cures or medications that one can take to treat vertigo as of yet, but thankfully the symptoms can be remedied

Bone conduction headphones have many benefits to a wide variety of music listeners, from the hearing impaired and elderly to various types of sportspeople and even musicians. 

However, bone conduction headphones have been known to cause vertigo in several case studies and user testimonies. This issue is either triggered or aggravated when headphones are used at excessive noise levels. 

There are a handful of steps that users can take to help prevent or treat vertigo while using their bone conduction headphones. These steps also apply to users of traditional headphones, earbuds, and AirPods. 


Can bone conduction headphones cause tinnitus?

Bone Conduction headphones are in no way designed to cause or aggravate the onset of tinnitus. However, with excessive noise levels and improper usage, some users can experience this condition after using bone conduction headphones. 

What are the disadvantages of bone conduction headphones?

While bone conduction headphones may provide safer audio playback, they do come with a few design flaws. For one, their design often allows for sound to leak from the earpiece, which results in lesser sound quality than conventional headphones provide. 

Do bone conduction headphones damage hearing?

Even though bone conduction headphones do not directly cause hearing loss, they can cause hearing damage if operated in an unsafe manner.

Common mistakes made by users include overuse, listening at too loud a volume, and listening while sleeping.