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Hearing Loss or Dizziness With an Ear Canal Problem

Hearing loss and dizziness are not commonly caused by ear canal problems. Significant hearing loss or vertigo may mean a more serious condition that requires medical evaluation.

  • Minimal hearing loss may occur if the ear canal becomes blocked with earwax, swelling of the canal, or thick drainage.
  • People often feel lightheaded or as if they might pass out when they are ill. This is different, however, from vertigo, which is a feeling that you or your surroundings are moving when there is no actual movement. The motion is commonly described as a spinning or whirling sensation, but it can also include sensations of falling or tilting. Vertigo can cause nausea, vomiting, the inability to walk or stand, or falls with the possibility of injury.

Both vertigo and lightheadedness can be caused by ear canal problems, especially if these sensations occur with a viral infection or allergy symptoms. Vertigo is common with inner ear disorders, such as labyrinthitis, Ménière's disease, an injury to the ear or head, or a noncancerous growth in the space behind the eardrum (cholesteatoma).

By Healthwise Staff
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Revised January 9, 2012

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