I have Ménière's disease and have lived in the South my entire life -- you guys antidotally are right on target with your correlation between high humidity and sinus, ear pressure and vertigo. I definitely have all of these symptoms when humidity is high -- my vertigo is probably exponentially worse than someone without Ménière's disease.
You guys are not crazy -- it's a real phenomenon.
That stuffed-up-nose feeling characteristic of a sinus infection may be due to humidity. Nick Rowe / Getty Images stock
If you've ever had a sinus infection, you know how annoying and uncomfortable that plugged-up-nose feeling can be. But there may not actually be anything blocking your nose, says a new study from the Monell Chemical Senses Center, in Philadelpha. That feeling of congestion may be due to the humidity of the air you breathe.
Nasal sinus disease, or sinusitis, affects approximately 33 million people and accounts for more than $5.8 billion in healthcare costs annually, according to a release from Monell. Most of the time, the condition is caused by infection or allergy, which, in turn, causes sinus tissues to swell. That's the can't-get-enough-air feeling that makes a sinus infection so unpleasant. And it's hard to treat, because in many cases, there's nothing really blocking the airways -- no physical obstruction, anyway.
The new study, published today in PLoS One, had 44 healthy volunteers rate their symptoms of stuffiness after breathing air from three boxes. One box contained room air at normal humidity, one held dry air at room temperature and one contained cold air. The volunteers reported feeling less nasal congestion when they breathed from the cold air box and the dry air box, with the cold air being most effective.
Study co-authors Kai Zhao, Ph.D., and co-author Bruce Bryant, Ph.D., both scientists at Monell, theorize that temperature and humidity interact as air moves through the nasal cavity to influence nasal cooling. This cooling is detected by "cool sensors" inside the nose, which can make you feel like it's easy to breathe, or not so much.
“Someone in the desert, all other things being equal, should feel less congested than someone in the jungle. In the low humidity of the desert, there is more evaporative cooling inside of the nose, such that the temperature of the nasal passages is lower. This leads to a feeling of greater air flow – and less sensation of obstruction.” said Bryant in the news release.
Does that mean folks afflicted with a sinus infection should head for the deep freeze to get relief? "From my own experience (probably most sufferers of nasal sinus disease would also agree), immediately after stepping outside during cold winter, I would often feel a brief freshness and clearness of (the nose," wrote Zhao in an e-mail. But prolonged exposure might trigger a nerve reflex, resulting in a runny nose and more congestion. "You can say our study is just scientific confirmation of our obvious daily experiences," added Zhao.
I too have been experiencing difficulties in the NE especially when the dew point is high like today. My ears were clogged and I had major vertigo. Prior to this, I've been out walking a lot with my dog. My doc checked my ears and diagnosed me with an ear infection in both ears. It could have been that bacteria got trapped in my ears due to sweat. Well I was on 10 days of antibiotics plus ibuprofen. The clogging lessened and the vertigo dissipated. But noticed when I went outside I'd feel dizzy again. On day 8 I began to take Claritin and a Decongestion. Doc checked my ears on day 10 and infection was gone but still have a little fluid in one ear. Doc said to keep taking the Decongestion. I check the dew point and if it's above 65 degrees I stay indoors. If I have to go outside I make sure to use car ac with windows up. If I'm out too long, my ears get clogged and I feel dizzy again. Also try taking cool luke warm showers after u return from outside. Plus putting cotton in ears when showering helps keep moisture out and use hair dryer on cool to dry ears too.
If you haven't already- visit doc and have em check your ears.
I hope you get some relief. I feel your pain- literally.
During hot & humid days of Spring and Summer ( Maryland) I have pain in left jaw and ear.. Also behind left eye.. Ibuprofen.. Advil..Excedrin.. All temporary at best.. Need help
I live in Louisiana and suffer with Tinnitis, Ear fullness and Vertigo. Although there may not be scientific research to back it up - I *definitely* notice an increase in ear fullness, tinnitis and vertigo on hot and particularly higher humidity days. The higher the humidity, the more I'm trying to 'pop' my ears adn the more anti-vert I'm having to take in order to function. In fact, my vertigo symptoms are pretty much exclusive to only the months of July, August and part of September - the hottest months with the highest humidity here in the Deep South.
I cant comment on the dizziness part but i notice when the humidity is high my sinuses bother me.
vertigo can be affected by allergies
i'm not so sure about humidity
If you have inner ear trouble, barometric pressure changes certainly can cause symptoms to worsen temporarily.
People with endolymphatic hydrops (one version of which is known as Meniere's disease) sometimes complain that they're a "human barometer" and suffer a lot when weather fronts come through, getting dizzier, more ear fullness, etc.
I'm not sure about humidity itself.
As for allergens, my neuro-otologist (inner ear specialist) does believe that allergies make inner-ear symptoms worse, and he has an allergy clinic right there in his office. I never thought I had allergies, but he had me tested and of course I do. He does not claim allergies are the CAUSE of my dizziness but says that most of his patients feel better with allergy shots, as anything that even slightly irritates the inner ear can worsen your symptoms. I have had an overall lessening of my dizziness since starting the shots two years ago, although of course there is no proof it's BECAUSE of the shots.
A GREAT site with all kinds of information about all kinds of dizziness is Dr. Tim Hain's site, www.dizziness-and-balance.com.