Why You Feel Dizzy After Blowing Your Nose

Maybe it's flu season, you ate something spicy, or you've fallen ill with a stubborn sinus infection. No matter the cause, at some point or another, you'll probably find yourself reaching for a tissue to dab at that runny or stuffy nose. The harder the blow, the more clearly you're bound to breathe, right? Careful. If you do, you may find yourself faced with a dizzy spell after the fact.

The connection between blowing one's nose and feelings of dizziness lies in the quick exchange of air pressure that takes place, explains Healthline. When forcefully blowing your nose, that air gets propelled through your Eustachian tube into your inner ear. Our inner ear is a key player when it comes to balance, as it harbors our vestibular system. It's our vestibular system that sends information to the brain that allows it to determine any shifts in balance. Between the accumulation of pressure in the inner ear and the positioning of our head, as we blow into a tissue, this can cause our brain to believe that we've been thrown off balance.

When dizziness from nose blowing doesn't go away

While nose-blowing-related dizziness usually doesn't last long, some people may experience more serious outcomes. In a 2015 case report published in the Journal of Audiology & Otology, a man in his early 40s with a history of runny nose and stuffiness sought medical help for fullness in the ear, loss of hearing in his right ear, and dizziness that occurred in the aftermath of blowing his nose.

The man was found to have developed a rare condition known as pneumolabyrinth in his right ear. With pneumolabyrinth, a person may experience dizziness, ear fullness, or permanent hearing loss, among other symptoms. This condition, which is characterized by air bubbles trapped in the inner ear, is traditionally a result of head trauma or surgical complications. However, this case proved unique in that the symptoms developed in the absence of injury. The researchers determined that, while nose blowing is an uncommon cause, it can potentially lead to pneumolabyrinth.

How to prevent dizziness when blowing your nose

Along with dizziness, there may be some alternate risks in blowing your nose too harshly, such as nosebleeds, according to Healthline. Risks could also potentially include an ear infection if germs were to make their way through the Eustachian tube into the middle ear, although this is not a frequent occurrence. At worst, a person could suffer an eardrum rupture, but this is also highly unlikely.

So how can we protect ourselves from dizziness and other potential health issues when we feel the urge to blow our nose? Remember, less is more. Rather than giving it all you've got, use your finger to hold one nostril closed while leaving the other one open and blow softly into a tissue before switching sides. A one-nostril blow will minimize the amount of air pressure moving through the Eustachian tube, as opposed to blowing through both nostrils at the same time. Finally, if you're not seeing anything in your tissue as you blow your nose, don't force it and consider some alternate relief methods.