Some of you may remember this; I like to do it every year around this time of the year because as fall rolls around, we definitely do have more and more allergies that happen, but why? Why do you think it would even affect your balance?
When you get allergies, you’re sensitive to something, whether it may be food or, at this time of the year, leaves and grass. In the springtime, you have the pollen as well, but what happens? You’re starting to get congested, your sinuses fill up, but why do you think that’s going to directly affect your balance?
Let’s go back to our sinus cavity, our nasal passages and where the sinuses are. We have these cavities around our nasal passages, through our face and behind the eyes, and doesn’t that make sense because when our sinuses kick in, a lot of us feel that pressure, which we call sinus pressure and that happens to always happen right behind the eyes or right around the temples, and you also can get headaches. When those fill up, we feel those symptoms, we’re sneezing and have those pressure headaches.
But why is it affecting our ears? What happens is when the ears are affected, it’s going to continually affect our balance, which you all know from my previous talks. We’ve spoken about how our ear canal affects our balance. We’re going to go over that a little bit, then we’ll go back to our sinuses, then talk a little bit about what we can do and we’ll go from there.
So, our ear canal. We have the eustachian tube, we have a canal that goes into our inner ear and then we, of course, have our outer ear. Well, within our inner ear, we have these little tiny hair-like structures called cilia, and they move around and they actually let our brain know where we are, so if I start to lean, the reason my brain knows I’m leaning and that I need to do something to prevent from falling is the celia like hairs are just moving around very tiny in like a tiny like fashion, and it’s telling my brain that “oh, hey you’re going too far, you’re off that center of gravity, you’re off your center of balance, you really need to pull back,” which is great and that’s how we stay within balance, within our center of gravity.
But let’s say that we are so congested, and we’re starting to get fluid into our ear where those hair-like structures can’t function as they should, so if I’m leaning and I’m not really feeling it, I’m not getting those senses, those neurons kicking in saying “hey, you’re going too far and you’re starting to lose your balance.” That’s, in part, how our balance is affected when we have sinus issues.
There are a couple of things that I want to go over before we get into the cause and what we can do about sinus pressure when you or your partner or your family have a sinus infection. Why do we say get your rest, get something to clear that up? It’s because as that clears up, you’re not walking around, in what we call, that fog.
So, you’ve have it right; you have a sinus infection. You get really foggy, and you just kind of feel like you’re walking in this cloud, and that’s also affecting your balance. When you’re walking around with that sinus infection, what ends up happening is your brain, your fog brain as they call it, which is not an actual medical term, you’re not able to walk, your depth perception is off. So, if you’re walking outside and suddenly there’s a slight step up or there’s a bump in the street or the curb, you’re not really quite seeing that, and then you’re going to end up falling. That’s another way that your balance is also affected.
What can you do about that? What are items that you can use? Clearly antihistamines, if you can take those, nasal sprays and a neti pot. Some of you are already familiar with a neti pot, but it’s a really good natural way of clearing your sinuses. Now will the neti pot cure your sinuses? It will not, but as you all have, as we call, the gunk in there, that’s a good way for us to cleanse it out and to sort of free our sinus cavities and all the way back to the ear, just to get some of that out.
When that pressure decreases, the amount of the fluid in there decreases. It helps our inner canal, inner ear, to function correctly.
The other thing that can help are just some simple balance exercises, but take care of that sinus infection first or decrease that sinus pressure.
We did a balance talk last month and you may remember that I want you to do these balance exercises when you’re having sinus issues – all with your eyes open not with your eyes closed – because it’s too much of a stress on your system to recognize when you are falling over, so eyes open.
Same thing when marching in place. You know that when you’re marching in place you’re moving from side to side. Moving forwards and backwards as you let your arms out further and further away from your body, that’s going to challenge your balance more.
I do want to talk about one other thing, and a lot of times some of you have vertigo or have had a history of vertigo. A lot of times what happens when you get a sinus infection is it can actually trigger your vertigo to come back, so do remember that when you’re feeling that dizziness, you have to think is it just a balance issue or am I having actual vertigo symptoms?
Vertigo, remember, occurs when you are performing positional changes, so if you’re going from lying down to sitting up or if you’re going from sitting to standing, that’s when you’re going to feel like “oh, I’m really off kilter,” and with vertigo symptoms, the phrase most of my patients use is “I’m not spinning, but it feels like the world around me is spinning.” Just remember, that if you’ve had that feeling, you clearly know that you might be having vertigo.
Many times with vertigo, during this season, we’ll actually recommend, rather than doing therapy first or the vertigo exercises, to get on the antihistamines and once you get that cleared up, that might just make your vertigo go away.
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