Can Sinusitis Cause Tinnitus? Understanding the Connection Between Sinus Infections and Ringing in the Ear

person with a cold

Sinusitis is widespread and impacts millions of people annually. It can cause an array of symptoms such as nasal, sinus, and ear congestion, pain in the ears, and even tinnitus (or ringing in your ears). In this article, we will discuss how to treat sinusitis to reduce or prevent any unpleasant sound or hearing loss you may experience due to sinus infections–even if bacteria only directly affects the nose rather than the more broad symptoms of infection.

The Interconnected Systems of the Middle Ear, Inner Ear, and Sinus Cavities

Our ears and sinuses are intimately linked, meaning that changes in one will have an influence on the other. Our middle ear is related to the back of our throat by way of a tube known as the Eustachian tube. This tube assists with balancing air pressure and draining out fluids from behind our ear drum. Sinus infections impact all of these systems, and can lead to sinus congestion, ear pain, nasal obstruction, and more symptoms based primarily in the nasal cavity.

sinus infection, sinusitis

Elsewhere inside our ears lies our organ for hearing and balance, which connects to our brain through the 8th cranial nerve, known as our auditory and vestibular nerve. Within our skull, there are numerous sacs or cavities filled up with air (termed “sinus”), which are lined with mucous membranes and connect to adjacent nasal cavities. These sacs impact hearing and when they are stressed or inflamed from sinusitis, people may suffer from hearing loss or changes and other seemingly unrelated issues.

"Treble Health helped me reduce my tinnitus by about 80%, and now I can live my life again!"
"Treble Health helped me reduce my tinnitus by about 80%, and now I can live my life again!"
– Steve D.
Looking For Tinnitus Relief? Call Now To Schedule Your FREE Consultation With A Doctor!

A sinus infection and allergies can cause sinuses to become congested, leaving the cavities filled with fluid. This leads to an increase in pressure within the sinuses and middle ear that may result in pain, hearing loss, or even ringing ears. Unfortunately, if left untreated, it is possible for this inflammation and accumulation of fluids to spread into the inner ear and cause permanent hearing loss or general damage to your hearing. Sinus infections are common, but plugged ears have a greater impact on hearing health (and hearing loss) than many realize.

Understanding Tinnitus Caused by Sinusitis

Tinnitus, the abnormal perception of sound without an external source, affects millions and is attributable to a broad array of causes. A sinus infection can cause tinnitus or worsen tinnitus in those who already have it and may be the cause of either temporary or permanent hearing loss.

When the sinus cavities become swollen and filled with liquid, the symptoms of sinusitis can affect the circulatory system in nearby areas such as your ears. This interruption to blood flow may lead to a disruption of sound processing by our brain which consequently creates a sound similar to trilling or other high-pitched sounds. When the sinuses become blocked during sinusitis, and the air is unable to flow through freely, blood and oxygen levels in the area may be affected, which could lead to alterations in how sounds are processed by our brains. This interruption can cause the headaches associated with a sinus infection, but can also result in an annoying sound that patients do not want! In certain instances, inflammation can also cause pulsatile tinnitus, a hearing condition characterized by an incessant noise that beats along with your heart rate.

Nasal congestion is often one of the initial indicators of sinusitis, which involves inflammation of your sinuses. When these cavities become blocked and inflamed, they can block off the Eustachian tube as well, resulting in a built-up pressure that brings about various symptoms such as muffled hearing, hearing loss, a full feeling within the sinuses (including auditory nerves), or even excruciating pain. In more serious cases, the increase in pressure associated with a sinus infection may lead to tinnitus.

Call To Schedule Your FREE Tinnitus Consultation!

Treating Sinusitis to Alleviate Ringing in the Ears

If you are looking for relief from the bothersome ringing in your ears associated with sinusitis, then treating a sinus infection is essential. The best way to address a sinus infection caused by bacterial infection is by utilizing antibiotics. Viral sources of a sinus infection can be addressed using decongestants when nasal swelling and congestion are present. For more significant cases, balloon sinuplasty may be used as an effective procedure to remove any blockages created within the passages of your sinuses. Discuss treatment options, including hearing aids, balloon sinuplasty, and even simple decongestants with a healthcare provider to determine which is best to treat sinusitis, hearing changes, or any other form of infection in which patients experience changes to optimal function of the nose or hearing. 

Tinnitus Relief

From hearing aids to largely experimental treatments, tinnitus can be treated. The condition itself can come about as a result of a number of conditions, including sinusitis, but tinnitus treatment is far from impossible. Although sinusitis treatment can help clear some of the sounds in a patient’s head, tinnitus treatment options will vary according to the root cause of the issue, which can begin with sinus damage or infection and grow following that illness.

Next Step: Take The Tinnitus Quiz

More To Explore


Treble Health Audiologists Are
Professional Members Of The


Tinnitus Web Class
THIS Wednesday only

A special online event to help you find relief from tinnitus.

Class starts Weds at 8 p.m. EST.

Tinnitus Relief Discovery Call…

Looking for tinnitus relief? Call now to schedule a FREE consultation with a doctor!

By clicking ‘Unlock $700 Off’, you consent to receiving information about Treble products and services via email and accept Treble’s Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.