Can Swimming Cause Vertigo? (Post-Swim Dizziness Explained)


Dizziness or vertigo has been a common issue among many swimmers. Can swimming really cause this vertigo?

Well, yes, swimming can result in vertigo or dizziness. There are many reasons for this complication. For instance, asthma, swimming pool chemicals, dehydration, and allergies are some of the common reasons for this issue. Low blood sugar and even inner ear infection can also fuel vertigo problems.

Why Vertigo Issues Take Place While Swimming?

The inner ear disorders or blood flow issues can contribute to dizziness or vertigo. Blood pressure, head trauma, or even motion sickness can be a vital cause of vertigo. 

That’s not all; complications with the central nervous system, ear canal, uncomfortable head position, or even neck pain can cause severe dizziness. Different sports medicine can also cause vertigo issues as a signal of side effects.

However, many swimmers tend to face issues with vertigo, especially during their swimming sessions. Here are some of the significant reasons why dizziness or vertigo occurs during swimming.


Asthma or Allergies

Being allergic to the pollen in the air or even asthma can contribute a lot to dizziness. Moreover, pool chlorine and most swimming pool chemicals can be a vital cause of dizziness.


Like any other sports or workout session, even swimming can cause body fluids to discharge as sweat. 

Moreover, starting your swimming sessions without taking enough water can lead to dehydration which can be a vital cause of vertigo. Some think that surface swimming, cold water swimming, or even freestyle swimming doesn’t cause that much muscle stress, so there’s no chance of getting dehydrated. 

Every sport with muscle movement will lead to fluid discharge, and you must take in enough fluid to keep proper hydration.

Low Blood Sugar

An empty stomach can cause low blood sugar, which can also be a reason for vertigo or dizziness. If you have been swimming for hours, your body has burned calories. 


So, to fill up your lost energy, you need to take in food to cover up the lost calories. However, when you neglect sufficient calorie consumption, you can experience dizziness in the middle of your swimming sessions.

Anxiety and Stress

When a swimmer is too exhausted, stressed out, or even tensed during a swimming session, then there is the possibility of having dizziness. This is because stress can impact the blood flow to the brain, and when there’s no consistent or even blood flow, vertigo can occur.

Staying in Cold Water Too Much

All swimmers should know that staying in cold water for too long can result in ear decompression sickness, fatigue, and even a swimmer’s ear. Moreover, you may also feel dizzy in some cases due to swimming in cold water.

According to experts, such issues are due to direct contact of cold water with your eardrum. Moreover, the changes in fluid density in your semicircular canals can hinder the blood flowing to the brain, resulting in dizziness.

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Video Creator: Mike Jotautas – The Swim Squad

What Is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, and How Does It Affect?

Rapid head movements during swimming strokes can lead you to a condition known as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).


A study reported that a female patient developed benign paroxysmal positional vertigo due to a long swimming duration without any significant breaks. 

The female patient’s symptoms dramatically declined after undergoing a treatment known as the Epley maneuver.

So, the significant reasons for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo to take place are due to:

  • Intense physical activity
  • Head thrust
  • Excessive water skiing related sports
  • Front crawl
  • Fast rotational movements
  • Head suddenly changing position

These are some of the factors that can lead to benign paroxysmal positional vertigo BPPV. However, in some cases, excessive scuba diving-related sports or increased swimming speed can also lead to this condition.

Therefore, to prevent such issues, doctors and experts recommend avoiding swimming for some days and concentrating on keeping your head in a fixed position, avoiding rapid head movements, and focusing on your breathing techniques.


You can also perform backstroke style and also alternate your breathing sides, especially when going through the front crawl. This swimming activity practice will prevent dizziness and allow you to have an effectively treated benign paroxysmal positional vertigo BPPV.

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Video Creator: Bob & Brad

Inner Ear Issues Associated with Excessive Water Contact

There are different inner ear issues that you can face with excessive water contact. When you swim in the pool or even be involved in different water sports, then there are chances that the water may sink in inside your ear.

That’s not all; abnormal afferent activity or even previous records of traumatic audiovestibular injury can make you feel dizzy and cause issues with the inner ear.

Below are some of the issues that you may face with your semicircular canal or inner ear when getting too much water exposure in your ear.

Inflammation and Ear Infection

There are times when your semicircular canals can get swollen due to excessive contact with water and the inner ear.


This can slowly lead to severe ear infections and inflammation. From this infection, conditions like cervicogenic dizziness can also take place.

Issues with Balance System

The inner ear and canal play a crucial role in keeping your body balanced. It gives information to the vestibular system regarding our motion and balance.

So, due to inner ear issues, you may face problems with your signal, which can eventually cause issues like dizziness or vertigo.

Ménière Disease

This is also a balance disorder that most swimmers face. However, this condition usually strikes at the age of 40s or even 50s.

It happens when excess fluid gets accumulated in the ear canal. Excessive endolymph can distort your balance and create issues with your hearing signals and balance.


One of the vital reasons for this accumulation is too much head-turning during swimming strokes, and the water gets stuck in the semicircular canal. So, this condition can show its aftermath when you can’t get the water out of the ear canal.

Ways to Prevent Vertigo After Swimming

Postural hypotension is also recognized as after swim dizziness. There are several practical and possible ways you can prevent dizziness. For instance, you can wear earplugs during your swimming activity so that the water doesn’t get accumulated in the ear.

So, here are some of the practices that you can follow to prevent any complex clinical picture regarding vertigo.

Wearing Compression Suits

Even blood flow helps a swimmer fight through postural hypotension, and these compression suits ensure the blood quickly runs through your body, supplying you with the perfect blood flow and oxygen supply.

Going to Ear Nose Throat Clinic

Suppose a swimmer faces severe sudden onset issues with vertigo. In that case, it’s highly recommended to go through check-ups from healthcare professionals, as they can aid with successfully treated methods that can be effective for many swimmers. 


Therefore, if you ever think you need to go through some professional advice, then make sure you don’t delay in any way possible.

Effective Breathing Technique

Freestyle swimming takes a considerable amount of energy, which can cause issues with your overall blood pressure and flow. So, the particle repositioning maneuver technique can aid you in regulating your pressure in the head and even aid in exiting the water from your ears.

However, your doctor may first run through some pure tone audiometry to confirm the issues. Then they’ll suggest the right techniques to proceed with your breathing techniques.