Yes, you might feel dizzy if you blow your nose too hard. That’s because forcefully blowing your nose can affect your ear, which also controls your sense of balance. In rare cases, blowing your nose too hard could cause other ear issues.

Stuffy noses know no season. Whether it’s a bad winter cold or a seasonal spring allergy, you might find yourself blowing your nose often and, sometimes, with a lot of force.

But blowing your nose too hard could have negative consequences. In some cases, blowing your nose too hard can affect your ears. It could cause your ears to feel like they’re going to pop. It could even affect your sense of balance, as your inner ear plays a role in your balance.

Dizzy spells after blowing your nose are usually short lived. Still, they can be scary and uncomfortable. In this article, we’ll explain how blowing your nose can cause dizziness and provide tips on how to blow your nose safely.

Your ear is responsible for more than just hearing. Your inner ear is home to your vestibular system, which controls your sense of balance. If you feel dizzy after blowing your nose, it might be due to the transmission of pressure to your inner ear.

Your nose is connected to your middle ear through a canal called the eustachian tube. The eustachian tube works to equalize pressure on both sides of your eardrum. But if you blow your nose with too much force, the air that moves through the tube puts intense pressure on the little bones of your inner ear.

The vestibular system in your inner ear controls your sense of balance. It does this by sending signals to your brain about the position and movements of your head. The buildup of air pressure in the inner ear, combined with the movement of your head while sneezing, causes your brain to perceive a change in balance.

The dizziness you might feel from blowing your nose too hard is typically short lived and goes away without treatment. If your ears pop open, they might soon stuff up from sinus congestion.

Dizziness and popped ears

If your ears feel stuffy, it’s usually due to a blockage in the eustachian tube. This happens if you have cold or allergy symptoms. Blowing your nose too hard can cause your ears to pop, as the excess force relieves pressure in the eustachian tube.

Dizziness can often accompany this ear popping sensation. Blowing your nose can have a similar effect on your ears as the Valsalva maneuver, which involves pinching your nose, closing your mouth, and attempting to exhale.

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Blowing your nose is unlikely to cause long-term damage. But, in addition to dizziness, it could cause some issues for your ear.

If you blow your nose too hard, you might force bacteria from the sinuses to travel through the eustachian tube to the inner ear. An ear infection might result, although this is not common.

Though rare, an eardrum rupture might also result. If there is substantial blockage within the eustachian tube, exerting high amounts of pressure could create a hole in your eardrum. Eardrum ruptures can cause temporary hearing loss, but they usually heal on their own.

Tips for safely blowing your nose

Having a stuffed-up nose can be very uncomfortable. But the first rule of thumb is to always blow gently, without excess force.

If blowing your nose is not productive — meaning no mucus comes out — try to refrain from blowing at all.

When you do blow your nose, only blow one nostril at a time. This will reduce the air pressure within the eustachian tube.

To blow one nostril at a time, place your finger against one side of your nose. Apply gentle pressure to close the nostril. Breathe in and gently blow into a tissue from the open nostril. Repeat on the other side.

In addition to dizziness and ear issues, blowing your nose too hard can give you a nosebleed, especially if the outside humidity is low and the inside of your nose is dry.

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Sinus infections can cause swelling and fluid to build up in the eustachian tube, causing a blockage. Doctors refer to this condition as eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD). ETD causes your ears to feel stuffy, and it can cause issues with balance and dizziness.

Sinusitis can result from allergies or respiratory illnesses like the cold or flu.

Anyone with a sinus infection can get ETD, but people who are most at risk include:

Treating the underlying condition usually clears up ETD, dizziness, and other symptoms.

If you feel very dizzy or have vertigo, sit or lie down immediately. If you’re driving or operating any machinery, stop what you’re doing until the sensation passes.

Since dehydration may play a role, try drinking water or a beverage containing electrolytes before resuming any activity.

If dizziness persists, consider taking an over-the-counter antihistamine, such as Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) or Benadryl (diphenhydramine). Note that these medications can cause drowsiness.

Do not take these medications if they interfere with medications you’re already taking for sinusitis or any other condition.

If the dizziness persists or comes and goes without warning, be sure to inform your healthcare professional.

Blowing your nose too hard can sometimes cause a fleeting bout of dizziness. It might also cause your ears to pop if they are stuffed.

Dizziness from forceful nose blowing usually dissipates on its own within a short time. If dizziness persists or comes and goes without warning, tell your healthcare professional.