It can be disorienting when you experience the sensation of the world spinning around you. You might feel like you just stepped off a spinning ride at an amusement park, only to find you are sitting at home.
Something as small as blowing your nose can trigger vertigo, causing you to feel like everything is moving without warning. Your body is sitting or standing still, but the room feels like it’s moving fast and spinning all around you.
This sensation is called vertigo. Some people experience it frequently, but it’s an uncommon occurrence for most people.
What is Vertigo?
Vertigo is a condition that affects your equilibrium and balance. It’s usually connected to the inner ear, which is one part of the body that helps you maintain balance throughout the day.
When the spinning starts, it often passes within a few minutes. In severe cases, the sensation could last for several hours and disrupt your day.
While various triggers can cause vertigo, it’s usually connected to a few common conditions.
Why are You Feeling Dizzy?
Within the inner ear, there are tiny crystals suspended in the ear canal. If something happens to the crystals, then they can affect nearby balance sensory input areas. These five inputs are related to angular, vertical, and horizontal movement.
Vertigo can also be caused by a change in ear pressure, which can happen when you blow your nose. Sometimes, vertigo is a side-effect of other diseases and illnesses.
Types of Vertigo
Here are a few common types of vertigo and how they might be affecting your sense of balance:
- Benign Positional Vertigo: In this situation, the small crystals (mentioned above) are displaced. The crystals can affect the sensory input areas if they are thrown out of place by a head injury or accident. Sometimes, it is caused by a simple change in position, such as rolling over in bed.
- Meniere’s Disease: People between the ages of 30 and 60 experience this condition most often. When the dizziness happens, the symptoms are intense and can last for 30 minutes or more. Often, Meniere’s Disease includes both dizziness and a temporary loss of hearing or tinnitus in the affected ear.
- Inner Ear Pressure: When the ear canal is blocked, aggressively blowing your nose could change the pressure within this sensitive part of your ear. The ears and the nasal passages are connected through the Eustachian Tubes, which are tiny passageways that can be blocked by congestion.
- Neuronitis: Certain viral infections can affect the nerves in the inner ear. For example, you might experience vertigo after a bad case of the flu or a head cold.
- Inner Ear Growths: In rare cases, a tiny tumor might affect the balance nerve within the ear.
Sometimes, it could be a combination of causes. For example, you might be diagnosed with Benign Positional Vertigo and find that blowing your nose causes symptoms because of the change in inner ear pressure.
Home Remedies for Vertigo and Dizziness
Minor vertigo causes momentary dizziness, making you pause an activity until the world stops spinning. Moderate or severe vertigo can make you feel sick and limit your activities. It’s bad enough for some people that they need to lay down until the dizziness goes away.
If you are experiencing dizziness after blowing your nose, or unexplained vertigo, then you might try some of these maneuvers:
Opening Eustachian Tubes
When dizziness happens after blowing your nose, it’s likely connected to pressure or blockages in the Eustachian Tubes.
Remember that this congestion can affect the sensitive pressure, which affects the small parts of the ear that affect your balance. Clearing the congestion and opening these tubes can also have a positive impact on reducing dizziness.
Try these solutions to see if you can gently clear the congestion to open the pathways again:
- Swallow or Yawn: Equalize the pressure in the ears by swallowing or yawning. Open the jaw wide to affect the inner ears.
- Chew Gum: Gum chewing can have a similar effect because of the motion in the jaw.
- Decongestant: If you have a head cold or allergies and you often get dizzy after blowing your nose, try taking an over-the-counter decongestant to reduce congestion.
- Ear Infection Medication: Sometimes, an ear infection develops because of the buildup of congestion in the ears. Talk to your doctor about antibiotic treatments or other options to clear up the infection, which should help to reduce your dizziness and pain.
Treating the underlying cause of congestion is an essential step in preventing congestion in the Eustachian Tubes. For example, when your head cold clears up or allergy symptoms are managed, then you’ll find that it’s less common to get dizzy after blowing your nose.
Here are instructions to perform the Epley Maneuver – which is most effective if vertigo is caused by a disruption of the inner ear crystals.
Position yourself to sit on the edge of a bed, with your head turned 45 degrees to the affected ear. Place a pillow on the bed so it will be between your shoulders when you lay down on your back.
From a sitting position, quickly lie down with your head held at the 45-degree angle and the pillow between the shoulders. Hold this position for 30 seconds until vertigo stops. Keeping your head down, turn it until you are 45 degrees to the other side and hold it for 30 seconds.
Next, move the head and whole body, so you are fully laying on that side with the ear pointing down toward the mattress. Hold this position for another 30 seconds.
Slowly sit up and stay on the bed for a few minutes. These movements can be repeated three times before bed each night.
When to Talk to an ENT about Vertigo
How do you know when it’s time to talk to a doctor about dizziness and vertigo? Consider these recommendations:
- Acute Symptoms: When the dizziness lasts more than a few hours, then you might need to talk to an ENT about the underlying causes.
- Frequency: How often do you experience dizziness? Frequent symptoms are a common reason why patients book an appointment.
- Severity: When the dizzy spells hit, do they disrupt your activities for the day? If you are unable to function because of vertigo, then a doctor might be able to help.
The benefit of scheduling a diagnostic appointment with an ENT is that the doctor can identify the underlying causes.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to alleviate dizziness and vertigo. But finding the root cause of the symptoms can provide a clear pathway forward to prevent the symptoms in the future.
Book an Appointment with a Local ENT
Are you looking for an ENT near the Collin County or Dallas area? Our skilled team at Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat is just a phone call away. We offer full-service solutions for people of all ages. Schedule an exam at your convenience in one of our nearby offices, located in Frisco and Plano, TX. We offer an online appointment request form, or you can call us at (972) 596-4005.