Is it ever normal to feel dizzy when you blow your nose? What is going on here?
“Your Eustachian tubes go from your nose to your ears, and that’s what you equalize when you pop your ears when you go down a hill or when you’re on an airplane,” says Dr. C. Phillip Amoils, MD, a board certified otolaryngologist with SC-ENT Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists in CA.
Aggressive Blowing of the Nose
Dr. Amoils explains, “What happens if you blow too much pressure, and we call this the Valsalva maneuver, is that you’re forcing the air into the little middle ear space, and it puts pressure on the little bones of the ear.”
This then will “cause pressure onto the inner ear, which is the organ of balance and the organ of hearing.”
This excess pressure when blowing your nose is then what causes the dizzy feeling.
“So, it can actually affect the organ of balance by putting pressure on the little membranes there,” adds Dr. Amoils. “So don’t Valsalva too hard, but gently do it – that’s fine.”
The Valsalva maneuver is when a person bears down while either holding one’s breath or exhaling.
This commonly occurs during the straining action of lifting heavy weights, or when sitting on a toilet and pushing very hard to void a bowel movement. This action is called “bearing down.”
Ideally, to avoid a faint or dizzy feeling during weightlifting or straining to get out a poop, you’ll want to exhale as you simultaneously bear down.
Of course, when you blow your nose, you are exhaling. But it can be aggressive enough to cause pressure that leads to dizziness.
To make it easier to clean out your nose, you should consider a neti pot. This will moisten and loosen nasal mucus and make it easier to blow out.
Another option is to have a humidifier near your head overnight, so that the following morning, it’s easier to blow all that gunky mucus out of your nose without getting dizzy.
Dr. Amoils is considered among the best surgeons worldwide for sinus surgery and OSA, having helped thousands of patients for 25+ years. He also demonstrates to physicians the protocols he’s developed for mouth breathing, nasal congestion, obstructive sleep apnea and snoring using minimally invasive procedures.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.