The sinuses are interconnected cavities in our facial structure. There are four pairs of sinuses; maxillary, frontal, ethmoid and sphenoid which are lined on the inside with a protective mucous membrane. When the performance of your immune system is lowered, the situation is ripe for an infection. Such is the case with sinus infections, and chronic sinus infection can lead to spells of dizziness. It can put you to bed and interrupt your normal routine.
Before getting into the connection between sinus infection and dizziness, it may be beneficial to understand how the ears maintains your balance. The body balance while performing daily activities depends on the proper functioning of the vestibular labyrinth. It is a part of the inner ear and is also referred to as the 'organ of balance'. It includes the semicircular canals containing fluid and hair-like sensors that keep track of your head's movements; whether it is straight, bowed or tilted. The utricle and saccule, situated near the semicircular canals, contain particles called otoconia which are attached to the sensors that help register gravity and motion. The information from the vestibular labyrinth, utricle and saccule is passed onto the brain which makes sense out of it and coordinates muscle movements to keep us safely on our feet.
Organs such as your nose, nasal cavity, larynx, pharynx (throat), trachea and some of the sinuses collectively form the upper respiratory tract. The mucus (fluid secreted by the cells of the mucous lining) from the middle and inner ear is drained into the throat with the help of the Eustachian tube, which along with middle ear and upper respiratory tract are lined with a continuous layer of mucous membrane.
Normally, when the atmospheric pressure increases, the eardrums or the tympanic membranes are pushed in which in turn, forces the air behind them into the throat through the Eustachian tube. This equalizes the pressure inside the ear to that of the atmosphere pressure. Now, you can imagine what happens when the atmospheric pressure decreases. A respiratory tract infection in which bacteria or viruses attach themselves to the mucous lining of the sinuses, may spread up to the Eustachian tube and may clog or block it easily. This results in an ear infection and the accumulation of mucus in the middle ear and the build up of pressure on the eardrum and the inner ear. This causes earache and upsets the fine tuning of the vestibular labyrinth on which the brain depends for inputs, in order to maintain our balance.
The increase in the fluid pressure in the inner ear distorts the information that is passed onto the brain and induces the feeling of vomiting, nausea and dizziness. The relationship between an ear infection and sinusitis corresponds to the dizziness.
Symptoms and Treatment
Generally, the infection is caused by the common cold virus, bacteria, fungi and allergic rhinitis. In addition, air pollutants, pollen, extreme climatic conditions and changes may also aggravate the problem. The following brief note presents information on the symptoms along with its treatment.
The viral growth on the mucous membrane may lead to the congestion and the blockage of the nasal passage, which is important for the draining and ventilation of the sinus, and could lead to an infection of the ear and result in dizziness. Sinus infection of viral or bacterial origin can be infectious and you need to take precautions to prevent it from spreading to others. However, those caused because of allergies are non-infectious.
I am sure, you have experienced the most common symptom i.e., a stuffy nose, at least once in your life. A sinus headache and the pressure around the face are also commonly experienced symptoms because of this condition. Thick nasal discharge, yellow or greenish in color and accompanied with bad breath, cough or fever are other symptoms. On the basis of the duration of the infection, we can classify it as acute, sub-acute or chronic. You may recover from a sudden (acute) attack in less than 4 weeks, a sub-acute condition may bother you for about 4-6 weeks, whereas a chronic infection may last for at least 12 weeks.
The infection and dizziness that follows it, must be taken seriously because there is a loss of balance which could lead to an accident. This makes it important to at least try home treatments as early as possible. You may prefer to eat jalapeno pepper or a chili or inhale steam which may give you the relief. Add few peppermint herb (leaves) or eucalyptus oil to the boiling water and inhale the steam.
If it is of bacterial origin, you can successfully do so with the help of antibiotics which your doctor will prescribe for you. However, if it is of viral origin, you may have to weather it out, and it may take a long time. If you are suffering from such an infection more often than not, it is best to consult your ENT specialist. He may recommend you to clean these and drain them surgically which is the normal course of action for a fungal infection.
Caution: It is important to take care of the sinus infection, whether it is accompanied with the dizziness or not. If it is successful in making its way to the brain, it can give you meningitis. If it reaches to the eyes, it may cause blindness. It can also be a cause of a stroke, as it can cause blood clotting around the sinuses that may result in the disruption of blood supply.
In Yoga, an exercise known as the nasal irrigation is a practice that can help you in maintaining nasal and sinus hygiene, if problems are bothering you consistently. Make sure you learn it under an expert's guidance. The best strategy to prevent an infection, altogether, is by maintaining your physical fitness, personal hygiene and eating good food which will ensure that your immune system stays at its best. Lastly, it is vital that you take care while dealing with people having an infection. It is best to seek medical advice, when an infection goes out of hand.