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What is the Connection Between Sinusitis and Dizziness?

By Madeleine A.
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The connection between sinusitis and dizziness is that sinus congestion commonly causes a build up of inner ear fluid, disrupting the equilibrium. Consequently, this causes dizziness and vertigo. Although vertigo is similar to dizziness, the difference is that vertigo produces a feeling of spinning and motion. In addition, vertigo is often coupled with profound nausea and vomiting. Sinusitis and dizziness are frequently related to a sinus infection, however, the conditions can be chronic and last indefinitely.

Treatment for a sinus infection usually includes antibiotics because these types of infection are frequently caused by bacteria. Sinusitis and dizziness also are frequently treated with decongestant medications. Oral decongestants and nasal sprays are equally effective in relieving sinus congestion, however, oral decongestants usually produce side effects. These side effects include a pounding heart, inability to sleep, anxiety, and palpitations.

Conversely, decongestant nasal sprays generally only produce local side effects such as a dry nose or mild nose bleeding. Neither form of decongestant medication should be used longer than recommended by the physician, because when this occurs, they can lose their effectiveness and result in a worsening of symptoms.

Other effective remedies for treating sinusitis and dizziness include using a humidifier or vaporizer at bedtime, which can relieve dry nasal passages and ease congestion. After using a vaporizer, the device must be completely cleaned before the next use or bacteria can multiply and transmit infection the next time it's used. Antihistamines and anti-vertigo medications are effective for treating dizziness and the spinning sensation of vertigo, however, they can worsen sinus congestion. Antihistamines dry up nasal secretions and are appropriate treatments for post nasal drip or allergies, however, they're not recommended for sinus congestion.

People who experience sinusitis along with dizziness might also benefit from prescription ear drops as these can relieve pressure in the inner ear, substantially reducing dizziness. After instilling ear drops, care should be taken to keep the head still for a few minutes so the drops do not leak out and are able to reach the inner ear. When ear drainage or bleeding is present, ear drops are not be recommended, as this can indicate a perforated eardrum.

When sinusitis and dizziness worsens, the physician needs to be called, because this can indicate a secondary infection and the treatment plan may need to be altered. Certain sinus infections are resistant to antibiotic therapy, including those caused by fungal infections. In these cases, anti-fungal treatments are available that can help resolve symptoms.

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Discussion Comments
By Oceana — On Feb 16, 2012

My husband went to his doctor last summer, complaining of a sinus infection and dizziness. She gave him the usual antibiotics, but she also prescribed him a decongestant.

He had never taken one before, and he was a bit taken aback by the side effects. It worked great at reducing the pressure in his nose and ears, but it also gave him heart palpitations.

He would feel a sudden strong thump, followed by a skipped beat. It was alarming, but since he didn't have to take the decongestant for very long, he decided to endure it.

Looking back, that probably was pretty dangerous. He should have called his doctor to ask her for something else. However, he survived, and he got off of the decongestant as soon as he had finished his round of antibiotics.

By seag47 — On Feb 16, 2012

@wavy58 – You might find that prescription ear drops make a trip to the doctor worth your while. Over-the-counter versions sometimes don't have strong enough medicine in them to help.

I went to my doctor with what I thought was an ear infection, only to find out that it was present in all my sinuses. I was accustomed to nasal congestion, so I didn't even notice that it was part of my illness.

She gave me some antibiotic ear drops to use in combination with oral antibiotics. This helped me get relief from my ear pain and dizziness quickly.

I was shocked at how much easier it was to breathe through my nose after taking the antibiotics. Apparently, I must have had a sinus infection for awhile, because congestion had become the norm for me.

By kylee07drg — On Feb 15, 2012

I use a humidifier in my bedroom to combat my sinus pressure and dizziness. While it can't get rid of an actual infection, it can lessen the symptoms.

When I get a sinus infection, my nose dries out terribly. Since it is also swollen, it is very hard to breathe through my nostrils. The mucus becomes hard and sticks to them, which is very uncomfortable.

The humidifier moistens my nasal passages and makes the mucus more pliable, so it can be blown out. The moisture seems to make my dizziness subside a bit, too.

I turn the humidifier on a few hours before bedtime, and I shut my door. By the time I'm ready to lie down, the room is nice and humid, making it easier to breathe and get some sleep.

By wavy58 — On Feb 15, 2012

Wow, I didn't know that ear drops could help with this problem! I have always wound up taking antibiotics, which take quite awhile to work on ear pressure and dizziness, though they do clear up my nasal passages rather quickly.

Constant allergies keep my sinuses infected. I have tried twenty-four-hour antihistamines, but over time, they stop working for me, and I'm right back at square one.

I'm going to try ear drops next time I get dizzy from a sinus infection. Sometimes, decongestants work on my nose fairly well, so maybe if I could take both, I could get relief without having to see a doctor.

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