Can sinus infection cause tinnitus?

Hello All

I often get asked by folks that visit me in the pharmacy, whether it is possible for someone to get tinnitus(ringing in the ears) as a result of a sinus infection.Can sinus infection cause tinnitus

I think before I answer this question, allow me to explain to you a little about our sinuses.

What exactly is the sinuses? What purpose do they serve? How do you get sinusitis?

Can sinus infection cause tinnitus? read further on to find out these answers.

What Are the Sinuses?

Okay, we all know that the nose is the organ of smell and is the main passageway for air in and out of the lungs. Its purpose is to warm, moisten and clean the air before it enters the lungs.

It is the bones of the face around the nose that contain hollow spaces which are called paranasal sinuses. There are four main groups of paranasal sinuses : the maxillary, ethmoid, frontal and sphenoid sinuses.

What is the purpose of the Sinuses?

The sinuses, helps to reduce the weight of the facial bones, while maintaining bone strength and shape. The air filled spaces of the nose and sinuses also adds resonance to the voice.

The sinuses just like the nasal cavity has mucous membrane lining. This lining has cells which secretes the mucus and tiny hair structures called cilia.

Incoming dirt particles are trapped by the mucus, then are moved by the cilia into the nasal cavity via small sinus outlets or openings called Ostia. It is from here, that by us either sneezing or blowing our nose, these particles then exit the nose.

Therefore any blockage of these tiny openings causes a condition called Sinusitis(or sinus infection).

What is Sinusitis?

Basically sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses. This inflammation can be caused by an allergy or an infection.

Some facts about sinusitis

  • 10-15 Million people suffer from it,
  • May occur in any of the four groups of sinuses that I mentioned above,
  • Most of the time has an associated inflammation of the nasal passages,
  • Can be short-term or long-term.

If you are prone to colds or flu, or even to allergy attacks, chances are that you can get nasal congestion.

Here is a summary of the steps of what happens to you when you “catch a cold.”Can sinus infection cause tinnitus

1.Initally you get infected with a cold which is a viral infection of the upper airways.Can sinus infection cause tinnitus

2. During a cold, the swollen mucous membranes of the nasal cavity (blocks the tiny openings of the sinuses. As a result drainage of the sinuses is blocked.

3.The air that once filled the sinuses, is now absorbed within the blood stream, causing the pressure to decrease in the sinuses. This decreased pressure causes pain and fluid to enter it.

4.This fluid provides the ideal breeding ground for bacterial growth.

5. To combat this bacteria, the body starts producing defence cells, called White Blood Cells(WBC). Along with entry of these WBC’s, there is also more fluid that enters the sinuses causing the person to feel pain with increased pressure.

Besides viruses, allergies can also cause sinus infection.

What are the common symptoms of a sinus infection?

They are

  • Pain, swelling of the sinuses,
  • Toothache, headache,
  • Yellow or green discharge from the nose,
  • Fever or body chills,

Can sinus infection cause Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is defined as ringing, hissing, roaring or whistling noises. It is a symptom rather than a condition and can be caused by such things as exposure to loud noises, Meniere’s Disease, build-up of ear wax or even head injuires.

There have been some reports of indviduals suffering from a type of tinnitus called Pulsatile Tinnitus(PT) as a result of sinus blockages.  This is type of tinnitus, whereby a person hears his pulse beat in his ear/s.

(Please check out my article, “The Different Types of Tinnitus,” if you would like to know more.)

The Eustachian tube, helps to maintain equal air pressure on both sides of the ear-drum. It accomplishes this by allowing air from the outside to enter the middle ear.

Now when there is a sinus congestion, you can get compression of the muscles around the ear. This can block the Eustachian Tube. As a result air cannot reach the middle ear, so  the pressure there decreases.

When the pressure is lower in the middle ear than in the ear canal, it causes the eardrum to bulge inward.

The bulging of the ear-drum can cause pain and as a result, one may experience tinnitus symptoms.

So yes, I think that sinus infection can very much cause Tinnitus.

So, how can you treat Sinusitis?

To have sinusitis is bad enough. To add tinnitus to the picture, makes it even more unpleasant.

Here are common things that you can do at home to treat your sinusitis

The main purpose of treatment should be aimed at improving the sinus drainage system and treating the infection.

1.Nasal Decongestant Sprays: These sprays contain Oxymetazoline or Phenylephrine. Their main purpose is to constrict the blood vessels. By doing this, they prevent congestion of fluid in the nasal cavities. The problem is that they cannot be used for longer than 5-7days.

The reason is that if it is used longer, they cause “rebound nasal congestion.” This simply means that it makes the congestion worse.

2. Oral Decongestants : These preparations e,g. Actifed( Contain Pseudoephedrine and Tripolodine.) helps to reduce congestion without having to cause the “rebound” side effects.

There are other side effects though and caution must be exercised in people who have high blood pressure.

3.Nasal Corticosteroid Sprays : Depending on the country that you reside in, certain nasal corticosteroid sprays can be bought over-the-counter at your local pharmacy. In my country, we sell Flonase( Fluticasone Propionate).

The steroid sprays are great in a sense that they can be used longer that 5-7days.They help to reduce the inflammation of the mucous membranes. In fact, even in someone who is suffering from chronic sinusitis, can use the spray for a period of 6months or longer!!

Dosage on this is usually one puff daily into each nostril.

4.  Anthistamines

Oral anthistamines that contain any of these actives,  Loratadine, Desloratadine, Cetirizine, Levocetrizine etc. help with treating the allergy.

The new generation antihistamines help to treat the allergy and cause less sedative side effects as compared to the older generation anthistamines.

They usually taken on a once-daily dose.

5. Nasal Irrigation Systems

Regular washing with saline water can help with the cleansing of the sinuses and maintain their moisture. One thing that I use regularly is the Neti-Pot.Can Sinus Infection cause tinnitus

Initially it is a challenge to get used to. However as you do it regularly, it becomes part of your routine, and as easy as brushing your teeth.

Using the nasal irrigation system helps with

  • removing of excess mucus due to congestion,
  • getting rid of pollen and other allergens,
  • alleviates nasal dryness due to air travel.

I will be doing a review of this product, so please do stop by again. In the meantime, I have placed a link to the Amazon store, should you be interested in reading reviews of this product.

Oral humidifiers are great in that they help to moisten the air in the environment. This helps to settle the surrounding dirt and dust particles and prevent allergy symptoms. Just a word of caution though, be sure not to go out into the cold as you may be more prone to congestion later on.

6. Antibiotics and X-rays

If none of the above helps in treating your sinusitis, then the next step would be for your doctor to order a CT Scan or MRI Scan, to be done on your sinuses.

He may initiate Antibiotic treatment (Amoxicllin) along with a short course of Oral corticosteroids(Prednisone) depending on the severity of the infection.

⇒Now that you have learnt about Sinus Infection, why not read a little more on ” How to treat Tinnitus that is caused by Viral Infections?”⇐

Conclusion

So can sinus infection cause Tinnitus? I most definitely think so. The great news is that, as you can see above, it can be treated using a number of different ways.

Some people may not even get any tinnitus at all with sinusitis, whilst others can be more prone to getting it.

Have you experienced getting tinnitus or ringing in the ears when your sinuses flare up, or when you get a cold?

If so, what do you do to treat it?

Thanks for reading and please do share or comment below. As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Everything of the best

Roopesh

 

 

 

 

 

 

32 Comments

  1. Luke

    Sinuses have a great use of keeping foreign particles from fully entering the body. They filter out the bad stuff, no wonder they are susceptible to infection. It’s great that there are these many different types of treatments available for sinus issues. I know I am effected by allergens during the spring time.

    • Roopesh

      Hi Luke

      Yes the nasal passages and sinus cavities are the first line of defense to foreign particles,such as dust or pollen that enters our body.

      So their job, is tough in screening out the nasties and protecting us from allergies, hay fever and colds or viruses.As you mentioned, you are most affected during the springtime, so the load of the allergens is higher or more taxing for the sinuses to deal with.

      As a result, with the overburden, the body needs external help such as sinus clearing, or sprays or antihistamines to help clearing it

      Thank you for sharing

      Roopesh

  2. Holly

    Hi Roopesh,

    Happy New Year! I never knew that sinuses are actually responsible for so much – you learn something new every day! I would never have linked sinusitis with tinnitus either. My nan suffers from tinnitus and I notice that this time of year when she has a cold (which no doubt affects her sinuses, her hearing gets temporarily worse. Out of all the methods of treatment you suggest, which in your opinion is the most affective?

    • Roopesh

      Hi Holly

      A very Happy New Year to you too!

      I just would like to make it clear that NOT all sinusitis can lead to tinnitus. This would depend largely on the severity with which one has the sinus infection and how it is affecting him or her. It can very well cause tinnitus though.

      I think the treatment options for your Nan would also depend on how bad her sinuses are.To start off with, if her blood pressure is controlled I would recommend a decongestant nasal spray taken for 5-6days, along with an antihistamine-decongestant oral combination.

      If she prefers, a cortisone nasal spray can also do the trick instead of the latter spray and can be taken for a longer period of time.

      For maintenance purposes, I would recommend nasal cleansing or wash using saline solutions. I have written more detail about the neti pot is helping with this, so do check it out.

      In addition, there are homeopathic or natural remedies, such as tissues salts or drops e.g Vogels Brand or Natura. These preparations take longer to work, but help to maintain the system in the long run.

      Hope this helps.

      All the best

      Roopesh

  3. Andrea

    It is very important to take care of ourselves in order not to get sinus infection.
    I do personally not use any of the products you listed here, i still use my grandmother system. A chopped onion rested in honey during the day and then live it close to my bed all night, the morning after drinking the juice and do a nice steaming with some eucalyptus leafs.
    I am sure your products are effective, i am not saying my way is better, it’s just works for me perfectly.
    It is good to know all the options, don’t you agree?
    Thank you for your article
    Bless
    Andrea

    • Roopesh

      Hi Andrea

      Absolutely agree with you that we must take care of ourselves and watch out any sinus infection.

      I as a pharmacist believe in the natural and alternative path as well. Having said that, I am glad your grandmother’s system is helping to keep your sinusitis at bay. I have heard of this remedy, but have not tried it. Perhaps, I will it a go. Thank you very much for sharing.

      If something works, I say ‘Go for It!’

      Bless you too

      Roopesh

  4. Kat

    Hi Roopesh, I usually “treat” a short-term sinusitis with salty water – I sniff it and eventually I can breath again. Is this ok to do (because i’m more into natural remedies) or would you recommend something else? However, this is a very thorough and easy to understand article..I’ve learnt from it 🙂 Thank you!

    • Roopesh

      Good Day Kat

      As I mentioned to Andrea, as a pharmacist and personally, I like to go the natural route first. It’s only in absolute necessary cases, whereby I have no choice but to then opt for taking medication.

      Yes, rinsing with saline solution is absolutely fine. Perhaps check out my review of the Neti pot. It may help you with doing this a lot easier.

      Glad you understood my article and took something home from it.

      May you have a great 2016 year ahead.

      Regards

      Roopesh

  5. Joon

    People who struggle from sinus problem knows how much of a hassle it is. I never figured out what’s causing it and I thought it was just seasonal allergy, but then I’ve been having more issue with it a couple of months ago and I was considering seeing a doctor. I thought I had to live with allergy meds the rest of my life. Then about a month ago I started feeling okay without meds. So I’m still clueless on what’s going on with my nose. But anyways yeah it does affect my eyes and ears as well. I have more build up of earwax.

    • Roopesh

      Hi Joon

      Things like season changes can cause allergies. But your home environment, the food that you eat, sometimes even the cosmetics that you apply may also cause you to have an allergic reaction.

      The fact that your allergy went away means that it is a trigger that you somehow got rid of.

      The trick here, is to use a trial and error method of eliminating things from your life and see if the allergy goes away.

      It is painstaking, but once you find the culprit, you will feel better. Another consideration is to have an allergy blood test done. It may be a bit pricey, but it is something to consider.

      Thanks

      Roopesh

  6. Anthony

    Hello,

    My wife has been dealing with this exact problem for a number of years. It hasn’t been constant fortunately but sometimes it does get bad. We hadn’t thought it may be connected to sinus’s. But it likely is because she also gets sinus infections from time to time. I will share your post as I think it may be of some help to me personally and others as well.

    Thanks,
    -Anthony

    • Roopesh

      Hi Anthony

      It can very well be a possibility that sinus infection to some degree may be cause of the problem.

      Look, it does not hurt to try some of the stuff that I mentioned and see what happens. I have had a patient that came into the pharmacy and tried everything. I recommended he get a script from a doctor for some antibiotics and cortisone tablets.

      It actually helped him a lot.

      Thanks for sharing this post, I humbly appreciate it.

      Should there be anything else that I may of assistance with, do let me know.

      All of the best to you and yours.

      Roopesh

  7. Tar

    Hello Roopesh. I am honestly overwhelmed with the scientific terms but thanks for your simplifying explanations.

    Looks to me there are many ways of treating the inflammation and to battle the compression/pressure which cause adverse effect on muscles.

    I like the fact that there are other benefits you include besides the effectiveness in treating the sickness like the durability of the item. Great stuff!

    • Roopesh

      Hi Tar

      Please let me know if there is something that is not clear to you, I would be more than happy to explain it to you again or no matter how long it takes.

      Yes, our body is remarkable and certainly responds differently to different treatments and therapies. As with sinusitis, I have learnt that the same applies to tinnitus.Some things tend to work better than others and I have shared them with everyone on this website.

      Thanks for the positive words and please do stop by again.

      Kind Regards

      Roopesh

  8. Tar

    Hello Roopesh. I am honestly overwhelmed with the scientific terms but thanks for your simplifying explanations.

    Looks to me there are many ways of treating the inflammation and to battle the compression/pressure which cause adverse effect on muscles.

    I like the fact that there are other benefits you include besides the effectiveness in treating the sickness like the durability of the item. Great stuff!

  9. shelley

    Wow!
    I am so glad I found this page!
    I have the worst sinuses. Any cold that comes along will head straight to my sinuses causing inflammation and pain. I guess where I’m going with this is, the last time I used a neti-pot, the water never came out. After that I have had trouble with my right ear (pain, feeling blocked, drainage…) Is this common? What would you suggest I try? Over the counter medication please, as when I went to a nose specialist, he said to come back when there is bleeding!

    • Roopesh

      Hi Shelley

      Sorry to hear about your sinuses. It can certainly be a bothersome.

      Sometimes, you can get issues with blocked water within the sinus cavity after having used a neti-pot. If you still are having trouble with the ear pain, then I would get it checked out, just to make sure that all is fine.

      If you would like to try over the counter stuff, I would try an oral decongestant with a steroid nasal spray.

      I hope that it will not get to the point of bleeding.

      Let me know how it goes.

      All the best

      Roopesh

  10. Isabelle beckvermit

    Got a bad sinus infection couple weeks ago. My first time. Went to doc. Gave me Prednisone. Amoxillin Zyrtec. Nasal spray and codeine cough medicine. No more pain in my face but I have been left with buzzing. Ringing in head and ears. What to do??

    • Hi Isabelle, sorry to hear about your infection.I think that your ringing may be a possible side effect of the medication.
      I would wait until the Prednisone course is complete. If the ringing is still there, I would get it checked out.
      Hope this helps
      Regards
      Roopesh

    • Melanie

      Hi Isabelle, hope you don’t mind me contacting you. Has the ringing in your ears stopped now? I have the same and just wondering how you are as I know how distressing the noise is! Are you managing to sleep? I can’t seem to 🙁

  11. Melanie

    Hi Roopesh,
    I too am so glad I found this page as I contracted a sinus infection before Christmas and like Isabelle I have been on Amoxillin, Co-codormol, Sudafed & Amitriptyline. My sinus pressure and congestion is gone albeit I still use a steroid nasal spray year round but again like Isabelle I have ringing in my ears which is driving me crazy I haven’t slept for days. I am feeling really low so visited a Homeopath today – hoping I get some light sleep relief tonight. Do you think the ringing will eventually go? I am so worried it won’t. Thanks for your time. Mel

    • Melanie

      I do also have clogged ears and wondered if this is the cause and how I can unblock them? I am trying everything from steam, warm compress, ear ‘popping’ and nothing is working!

    • Hello Mel
      I hope and pray that it will go away. I know the ringing is frustrating and I don’t wish for anyone to have to suffer from it.Regarding the clogged ears, if there is no pus or anything of that sort coming out I would go for something like Waxsol or Cerumol.

      Let me know if there is anything else that I could assist you with.

      Take Care of yourself
      Regards
      Roopesh

  12. Tony

    Hi All,

    Melanie, your symptoms are identical to mine. Christmas weekend I felt terrible, almost flu like. I took Tylenol for pain, ran a low fever and generally felt bad through the holidays. During the week, I kept feeling pain, sometimes stabbing, in my right ear. The Wednesday night after New Years I was watching TV and the Tinnitus began. I honestly thought it was the television! After several days, I went to my Dr. He said my ear was red and he suspected an inner ear infection. He gave me a Z pack and Flonase and sent me home. He told me if it didn’t improve he would send me to an ENT. A week passed. I started feeling better but the ringing continued. I tried olive oil, alcohol, apple cider vinegar, hot steamy showers, Neti pot, and a heating pad. NOTHING worked. Also when I tap the side of my head it sounds like it does after you get water in your ear. It did seem like the Neti pot caused the ringing to subside immediately after using it. I went to the ENT who basically said you have Tinnitus and there is nothing we can do. I was in shock! I couldn’t believe a sinus infection/ear infection could cause permanent damage within a couple weeks! One note, some mornings the ringing is nearly gone but by lunch time it starts and by evening it’s annoying. Yesterday marked 3 solid weeks for me. I sure hope this isn’t permanent. I’m still using Flonase and the Neti pot. Please keep me updated!

  13. CAT

    Just around the new year I contracted a bacterial infection and sinusitis. I had extreme pressure and was put on liquid codeine and a heavy antibiotic. Two days to taking the medication the ringing started. I have gone through two doses of antibiotics and although I feel better I still have minor pain and pressure in my ears. I’m only taking avamys at this point but the ringing has now been ongoing for 2 months approximately. Do you think once I’m back to 100% the ringing will go away. My doctor believes the ringing started with the antibiotics.

    • Hi there
      It certainly is possible that the antibiotics may have caused the tinnitus.Its hard to say whether or not the tinnitus will go away once you feel much more better.I certainly will pray and hope that it does go away.

      Avamys is a cortisone and has anti-inflammatory properties and should bring your sinus congestion down.
      I know that it may be a long shot, but perhaps consider taking an antihistamine along with the spray.Let me know how it goes.

      Regards
      Roopesh

  14. Rick

    hello, I’m a sufferer of Chronic Sinusitis since back to 1984 while living abroad in Europe. During the 4 and half years, i was there I contracted several viral infections and have had trouble ever since. up till here recently I’ve been diagnosed with Meniere’s disease is there a possibility it could be caused from the chronic sinusitis thanks

    • Hey Rick
      I think that the possibility can certainly exist. Remember sinusitis, if it gets very severe can potentially affect the fluid imbalance in the inner ear. As a result, one can get a vertigo attack.
      Hope this helps
      Regards
      Roopesh

  15. Eric the Reid

    First mine started with an ear infection, blocked up left ear. Then it went to my sinuses. Tried everything… finally made my special smoothie that I learned about when I was having leg problems. Works wonders on the inflammation, which is what I found out is going on in my sinuses. Finally this smoothie is helping me big time. 1 green apple, handful of cilantro, 4 big slices of fresh ginger, handful of kale, handful of spinach, squeeze some lemon in it, 4 stalks of celery..blend it up. Drink hour after you eat breakfast…then before dinner.. make another one, wait an hour and eat dinner. Stay away from greasy foods, dairy, wheat. Eat more anti-inflammatory foods.. you will feel it easing up after the first day. 🙂 blessup!

    • Hey Eric
      That is very interesting to hear. I am going to give that smoothie concoction of yours a go.Will let you know how it goes.
      Thanks so much for sharing.
      Regards
      Roopesh

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