Lyme disease triggers vertigo and hearing loss

woman with lyme disease and vertigo sitting and holding head

Vertigo (spinning sensation or feeling off balance) and hearing loss have been reported in several studies as symptoms of Lyme disease. One study found 4 out of 27 patients with neurologic Lyme disease experienced hearing loss.¹ Vertigo was reported in 5 out of 8 Lyme disease patients (62.5%) by Selmani et al.² Additionally, investigators suggest that vertigo can be the predominant symptom in patients with confirmed Lyme disease -- its symptoms resembling neuronitis vestibularis in the acute stage.³

A recently published study by Sowula and colleagues provides further evidence that Lyme disease can trigger vertigo and hearing loss. In their article “Vertigo as one of the symptoms of Lyme disease,” the authors examine the frequency of vertigo symptoms and potential labyrinth damage in patients with diagnosed Lyme disease.4

The study included 38 patients (ages 20 to 77) with Lyme disease, who were hospitalized at University Hospital in Krakow, Poland, between 2018 and 2019, due to vertigo or dizziness.

“One alleged group of diseases which can trigger vertigo involves infectious diseases of the nervous system,” the authors explain.

“Many pathogens are said to be in part responsible for inflammation; among them are spirochetes of Borrelia [the causative agent of Lyme disease] as well as other pathogens transmitted by ticks.”

The study found:

  • 76% of the Lyme disease patients reported vertigo (54% of them were women compared to 22% of men);
  • Hearing loss and tinnitus were symptoms which frequently accompanied vertigo;
  • 1 in 3 patients experienced sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), which was bilateral in 2 individuals and presented as sudden deafness in 2 other individuals. The hearing loss was significant for high frequency hearing loss but not low frequency hearing loss;
  • Tinnitus was reported in 3 out of 5 of the Lyme disease patients, the majority of whom experienced high frequency tinnitus.

“Increasingly, tick-borne illnesses [such as Lyme disease] are a potential cause of neurological symptoms reported by patients, including hearing loss, tinnitus, ataxia and vertigo.”

The authors conclude:

“It [vertigo] is frequently connected with labyrinth damage and hearing-organ impairment, which suggests that in the course of this disease the inner ear or nerve VIII is dysfunctional … Antibiotic therapy is effective in reducing otoneurological symptoms.”4

  1. Logigian EL, Kaplan RF, Steere AC. Chronic neurologic manifestations of Lyme disease. N Engl J Med. Nov 22 1990;323(21):1438-44. doi:10.1056/NEJM199011223232102
  2. Selmani, Z.; Pyykkö, I. Cochlear and vestibular functional study in patients with sudden deafness an Lyme disease. IJOHNS 2014,3, 46–50.
  3. Ishizaki, H.; Pyykkö, I.; Nozue, M. Neuroborreliosis in the etiology of vestibular neuronitis. Acta Otolaryngol Suppl. 1993, 503,
  4. Sowula K, Szaleniec J, Dworak M, et al. Vertigo as One of the Symptoms of Lyme Disease. J Clin Med. Jun 25 2021;10(13)doi:10.3390/jcm10132814

28 Replies to "Lyme disease triggers vertigo and hearing loss"

  • Paula Rogers
    01/09/2024 (8:38 pm)

    My 38 year old daughter started having vertigo and loss of hearing. Drs can’t find any reason other than meniers. My daughter was diagnosed years prior with Lyme disease. What can we do to find help. No Drs go beyond one tier on Lyme testing.

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      01/10/2024 (6:36 am)

      There were patients with chronic neurologic Lyme disease described with dizziness and hearing loss by Drs in 1990 in the NEJM. I have seen the same issues despite working with neurologists and ENT specialists. I have had to use clinical judgment if the tests are negative.

  • Adam Wheeler
    11/04/2022 (3:59 pm)

    In May 2019 I fell a little ill in The Canary Islands, headache and feeling unwell for a day or two. On my way back home to Iceland a few days later I lost all sense of balance for about two weeks. The doctors put me through all kinds of tests finding nothing and about two weeks later I was ok. At the time I discovered a very suspicious rash, with a distinct bullseye and out ring that slowly went outward to about 3-4 cm(small for Lyme I think). Since then I´ve had strange symptoms but not very serious, little bad knees, eye floaters, knocking in my ear and loosing balance again for a few days.
    Forward to this summer, it started with a searing headache in my left temple, then numbness in my right foot and now I´m tingling non stop in both feet, right arm, all face, tongue and throat and feeling like my breathing is laboured and tight.
    Is it possible, although my rash was smaller than what is normal and the Canaries not really known for Ticks and Lyme disease although there have been reported a few cases, that I have Lyme disease?Best regards

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      11/06/2022 (12:52 pm)

      It is particularly important to rule out other illnesses if the exposure is less likely and the rashes are under 2 inches in diameter. I have patients who were infected with tick borne illness from somewhere else that they suspected. I also have patients who were infected with Lyme disease at some other place at some other time.

      • Adam Wheeler
        11/06/2022 (12:56 pm)

        Thank you for your response 🙂
        The doctors here are in the process of ruling out other illnesses as well as Lyme disease.

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