Vertigo & sinus infections

Updated April 17, 2017

Vertigo is often thought of as a symptom of a head cold, flu or other respiratory problem, such as a sinus infection. However, vertigo is not an immediate result of such respiratory issues; instead, it either develops after a sinus infection has set in, is a result of medications to fight such infections or is born out of middle or inner ear complications not related to a sinus infection.

Definition of Vertigo

Vertigo is a symptom of impaired balance, producing a feeling that the sufferer and/or the sufferer's surroundings are spinning.

Causes of Vertigo

According to, a disorder in the structure of the inner ear is the usual cause of vertigo: benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) being the most common. Other causes include Ménière's disease, Cogan's syndrome, ototoxicity, vestibular neuritis and reactions to certain medications or environmental chemicals.

Most Common Cause

BPPV is sometimes caused by an inner ear infection (otitis media or labyrinthitis). Vertigo as a result of BPPV links to sinus infections because it often begins as the result of a viral infection, like a common cold).

Reaction to Medications

Because some people may experience dizziness when taking prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) cold medications, vertigo is often attributed as a symptom of the original cold or sinus infection. In reality, it is merely a symptom of the treatment.

Treatment for Vertigo

If a cold or sinus medication is the cause of vertigo, lowering the dosage or switching medications should alleviate the dizziness. Antibiotics may help clear up an ear infection. Otherwise, a physician may prescribe certain exercises (i.e., vestibular rehabilitation therapy) to help restore proper balance.

Treatment for Sinus Infections

The faster a sinus infection is cleared up, the less likely it is that vertigo will become an issue. Treat a sinus infection by drinking plenty of fluids, using a humidifier in the bedroom, taking OTC ibuprofen to reduce swelling in the nasal passages, washing the nasal cavities twice daily and using a decongestant.

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About the Author

A copywriter, editor, proofreader and blogger, Sheila Krehbiel brings more than a decade of advertising experience to her writing. She's garnered multiple ADDY awards, was recognized in a national copy-editing contest and taught English 101, 102 and business and technical writing while earning a master's degree in English literature.