Noise-Canceling Headphones help with nausea or headaches

Do Noise-Canceling Headphones help with nausea or headaches?

In today’s fast-paced world, noise-canceling headphones have become an essential tool for many individuals seeking solace from the constant barrage of environmental noise. By utilizing active noise cancellation technology, these headphones provide users with an immersive and enjoyable listening experience, free from external distractions. 

However, some users report experiencing side effects such as nausea and headaches, raising questions about the potential drawbacks of these devices. In this article, we delve into the world of noise-canceling headphones to explore the possible connection between their use and these common issues. 

By examining the underlying technology and its potential physiological effects, we aim to provide valuable insights into whether noise-canceling headphones can indeed help or exacerbate nausea and headaches, empowering you to make informed decisions about your audio equipment choices.

Understanding Noise-Canceling Headphones and Their Primary Purpose

Noise-Canceling Headphones help with nausea or headaches

Noise-canceling headphones are an innovative audio technology designed to minimize ambient noise, providing users with a more immersive and enjoyable listening experience. These headphones utilize active noise control, also known as active noise cancellation (ANC), to counteract external sounds through the generation of anti-noise signals. 

This allows listeners to enjoy their favorite music, podcasts, or audiobooks without having to increase the volume to potentially harmful levels. The primary purpose of noise-canceling headphones is to provide a better listening experience, particularly in noisy environments, and they have become increasingly popular among commuters, travelers, and those seeking respite from the cacophony of everyday life.

Common Issues: Nausea and Headaches

Despite their many advantages, noise-canceling headphones have been associated with some undesirable side effects, such as:

Nausea: Some users report experiencing nausea while using noise-canceling headphones. This could be due to the pressure-like sensation created by the active noise cancellation technology or the way it interferes with the inner ear, which is responsible for maintaining balance and spatial orientation.

Headaches: Headaches are another commonly reported issue among noise-canceling headphone users. This could be attributed to the pressure created by the headphones themselves or the subtle changes in auditory perception caused by the noise cancellation process.

How Noise-Canceling Headphones Work

Noise-canceling headphones utilize sophisticated technology to minimize ambient noise, providing users with a more immersive and enjoyable listening experience. At the heart of this technology is the concept of active noise control, which involves the generation of anti-noise signals to counteract external sounds.

Microphones within the headphones detect ambient noise, and the device’s internal electronics create an inverse sound wave, effectively “canceling out” the unwanted noise. This process happens in real-time, allowing the headphones to continuously adapt to changes in the surrounding environment.

Passive vs. Active Noise Cancellation

There are two primary types of noise cancellation: passive and active. Passive noise cancellation relies on the physical properties of the headphones to block out external sounds. 

This can be achieved through the use of sound-absorbing materials, over-ear designs, or in-ear seals that create a barrier between the listener’s ears and the surrounding environment.

Active noise cancellation (ANC), on the other hand, employs advanced electronics to generate anti-noise signals that actively counteract ambient noise.

While passive noise cancellation can be effective in blocking out certain types of sounds, active noise cancellation provides a more comprehensive solution, particularly in environments with significant background noise, such as busy streets or airplane cabins.

Effectiveness Against Different Types of Noise

Noise-canceling headphones are most effective against low-frequency, constant noises, such as the hum of an airplane engine, traffic, or air conditioning systems. These sounds are easier to predict and cancel out due to their consistent nature. However, noise-canceling headphones may be less effective against sudden, high-frequency sounds, such as car horns or people’s conversations, as these noises are more difficult to predict and counteract.

It is important to note that the effectiveness of noise-canceling headphones can vary depending on the quality and design of the device, as well as the specific environment in which they are used. Nonetheless, in many cases, noise-canceling headphones can provide significant relief from ambient noise, potentially improving the listening experience and reducing the need for high volume levels that can lead to hearing damage.

Noise-Canceling Headphones as a Potential Solution

While there is limited scientific research specifically examining the effects of noise-canceling headphones on nausea and headaches, some studies suggest that reducing exposure to environmental noise can have positive impacts on overall well-being and stress levels. 

For example, a study published in “The Effect of Noise Exposure on Cognitive Performance and Brain Activity Patterns’  found that reducing noise exposure can lead to decreased stress and improved cognitive performance.

Research reference: The Effect of Noise Exposure on Cognitive Performance and Brain Activity Patterns – PMC (

In the context of nausea and headaches, it is reasonable to hypothesize that reducing exposure to irritating or loud noises through the use of noise-canceling headphones could potentially alleviate symptoms. For those who are sensitive to noise or prone to stress-induced headaches, noise-canceling headphones may offer a valuable tool for managing these issues.

Tips for Choosing the Right Noise-Canceling Headphones

Choosing the perfect pair of noise-canceling headphones can be challenging, especially if you consider their potential to alleviate nausea and headaches. There are countless options on the market, so identifying the key factors that will ensure you find the right headphones for your specific needs is essential. 

As a part of this guide, we will discuss important aspects to consider when purchasing noise-canceling headphones for nausea and headache relief, including comfort, battery life, noise reduction capabilities, sound quality, and price. 

With these elements broken down, we aim to help you make an informed decision about noise-canceling headphones that will provide you with relief and enjoyment.

You should consider several factors when choosing noise-canceling headphones specifically for nausea and headache relief, such as:

Comfort: Ensuring that your headphones fit comfortably is essential to avoid exacerbating nausea and headaches. When evaluating comfort, consider factors such as:

  • Padding: Look for headphones with ample padding on the earcups and headband, as this can help distribute pressure evenly and reduce discomfort.

  • Weight: Lighter headphones are generally more comfortable for extended periods of use, especially if you are prone to headaches.

  • Adjustability: Opt for headphones with adjustable headbands and earcups to achieve the best fit for your head and ear shape.

Battery Life: Active noise cancellation (ANC) relies on battery power, making battery life an important factor to consider. Look for headphones with:

  • A long battery life: Some models offer up to 30 hours or more of continuous ANC use on a single charge.

  • Fast charging capabilities: This feature allows you to quickly recharge your headphones, minimizing disruptions during use.

  • A passive listening mode: Some headphones can still be used without ANC when the battery is depleted, providing a backup listening option.

Noise Reduction Capabilities: To ensure maximum effectiveness, evaluate the noise-canceling technology in various models by considering:

  • The type of noise targeted: As previously mentioned, headphones are most effective against low-frequency, constant noises, so focus on models that excel in this area.

  • Adjustable noise cancellation: Some headphones offer customizable ANC settings, allowing you to tailor the level of noise reduction to your specific environment or needs.

Sound Quality: While your primary goal may be noise reduction, it’s important to consider sound quality as well. Look for headphones with:

  • A balanced sound signature: This ensures that all frequency ranges are well-represented, delivering a pleasing listening experience.

  • A low level of sound leakage: This not only helps maintain your privacy but also reduces the chance of external noise interfering with your listening experience.

  • Support for high-resolution audio codecs: This can enhance the overall audio quality when listening to compatible music or other audio content.

Price: Noise-canceling headphones are available in a wide price range, so it’s crucial to set a budget that aligns with your needs and expectations. Consider factors such as:

  • Build quality: More expensive models often come with better build quality and materials, ensuring durability and long-lasting comfort.

  • Warranty and customer support: Reputable brands typically offer better warranty terms and customer support, providing peace of mind in case of any issues with your headphones.

  • Additional features: Higher-priced models may offer extra features such as touch controls, voice assistant integration, or app compatibility, which could enhance your overall user experience.


In this blog post, we explored the potential connection between noise-canceling headphones, nausea, and headaches, examining the underlying technology and its possible physiological effects. While there is limited scientific evidence on this topic, some users and experts have found noise-canceling headphones to be beneficial in managing symptoms related to noise sensitivity or stress-induced headaches.

However, it is crucial to recognize that results can vary, and noise-canceling headphones may not be a universal solution for nausea and headaches. If you decide to try noise-canceling headphones to alleviate your symptoms, carefully consider your specific needs and preferences when selecting a model. Additionally, if you are experiencing persistent or severe symptoms, consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate course of action for your unique situation.

About the Author

Noise-Canceling Headphones help with nausea or headaches

Rach Wellard

Rach Wellard is the driving force behind Sound & Solitude. Her mission is to help you discover the profound impact of sound in your daily life and to explore the beauty of solitude. With a deep passion for the connection between soundscapes and emotions, she brings a unique blend of expertise and personal dedication to our platform.

Rach understands that every individual's auditory journey is unique, and she’s here to guide you every step of the way. As a devoted audiophile, Rach’s discerning ear carefully selects the most exceptional products that align with your desires for Sound or Solitude. In a world filled with noise and chaos, Sound & Solitude serves as your sanctuary.

Rach’s journey as an autistic individual with a heightened sensitivity to sound fuels our commitment to creating an inclusive space where everyone can find solace while enjoying the meaningful sounds in their lives. Her understanding of diverse sensory needs enables us to offer personalized recommendations and insights, ensuring that your chosen audio equipment not only meets technical criteria but also resonates with your unique sensory preferences. And if you simply seek the best sound possible, Rach has you covered.

At Sound & Solitude, authenticity is our foundation. We provide unbiased reviews and comparisons because you deserve nothing but the truth. Our reviews are meticulously crafted, drawing upon Rach’s deep understanding of audio technology and the human experience in the Sound and Solitude realms. Whether you're searching for noise-cancelling headphones to immerse yourself in music or seeking a gaming headset that transports you to virtual worlds, you can rely on our reviews and personally tested comparisons to find the best equipment for your specific needs. Explore our carefully curated content, from the latest wireless audio advancements to tips for creating your ideal auditory retreat.

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