Air fans

Hi All

I work in an Open plan office and due to the number of computers, printers and photocopiers in the room, it often gets very hot in there. We do have a fan system with vents in the ceiling that blows out cool air but we rarely use it as it’s noisy so we prefer to open windows instead when possible.

The problem with opening the windows is it means some people have to sit in a draft so often people will switch the fan on during the day for 10-20min to cool down the room. However I’ve noticed that within 5 minutes of being in the room with the fan on, i suddenly get bad vertigo where it feels like the world is spinning and like I’m going to fall off my chair to the floor. Has anyone else had similar problems? It means I have to leave the office when the fan is on and at the moment I’m so busy at work that I really can’t keep leaving the room. I may have to ask to be moved into a different office but that would mean I no longer sit by two members of staff I supervise and work with (one person is new) so that’s not ideal either.

I’m interested to hear if anyone has the same problems or if anyone has any ideas why the fan can trigger vertigo.



Hi Jeni,

It is the sound of the fan that’s bothering you, or the motion of the air, or is it looking at the movement of it? Or something else?

Personally I can’t stand looking at anything moving round fast, and that would definitely make me feel unsteady and nauseous. But I don’t think the other aspects would bother me, so if I could sit where I couldn’t see it, that would be fine.

I have a ceiling fan in my office but I can’t have that and the overhead light on at the same time cause the blade shadow/flicker on the wall (because the fan is below the light so it creates a ‘flickering’ shadow) sets me RIGHT off

wonder if it’s the same for you?

Thanks for the replies.

The fan in our office isn’t a circular one that you can see moving, it’s actually fitted inside the ceiling so all we can see is the vent where the air comes through. There are 2 vents in the room and it’s not air conditioning. You may be right about the noise and/or the moving air particularly as I do suffer from sensitivity to sound. In all the articles and website I’ve read about migraine and MAV, I haven’t seen anyone else say that those types of fans affect them.

Also in the last six years, 5 people out of the 20 in my office have had labyrinthitis and I’m the 6th dizzy person with MAV (I like to be different :smiley: ) It just seems to be a very dizzy office!


My first guess is that it likely could be dust or something else in the venting system that is affecting you. Dust has been a very significant mav trigger for me, along with a long list of other things that can be inhaled, much more so than foods or visual stimuli. Venting systems might also contain mold spores, chemicals, and other particulates that can be very unhealthy. People without mav have been badly affected in cases of what is called “sick building syndrome”. How much more so those of us that are so quickly affected by our triggers.

This is the first article I found in a Google search that goes into this topic. There’s a lot of information out there on it.

Specifically look at the lists of contaminants from indoor and outdoor sources.

Unfortunately most people are not made aware that mav symptoms can easily come about by what we breathe in.

Sorry Jeni, I did re-read your first message and realised that I’d misunderstood about the sort of fan. I wonder - seeing as you mentioned the sensitivity to sound - whether it’s related to that and the vibration from it. I have to use a fumehood for dispensing certain chemicals at work sometimes, which also vibrates slightly and I find that quite disturbing when I’m having a bad spell, but find I can tolerate it ok when I am feeling better.

LIke Burd says, it could be something the fan is chucking out into the room though.

How strange that so many people in your office have had dizziness problems. I know Labs is a virus - is it contagious? Mind you, at least they are probably all sympathetic to your problems, having suffered a bit of it themselves.

Hi Jeni,

YES! The flow of air triggers me too. Whenever air is blowing on my face, whether hot or cold, my symptoms increase. The system in our office is horrible. It seems to always be blowing cold air in my area and the dust it kicks up has everyone sneezing. I sometimes try to counter the cold with a space heater, but while the hot air warms my body it also further triggers my symptoms.

I definitely feel worse while in the office. It’s probably caused by a combination of the heating system, fluorescent lighting, staring at a computer screen most of the day, and stress.

I’m also triggered by the vents in my car if they are blowing on my face and by strong winds outside. The key seems to be whether the air is blowing on my face and especially in my ears.


Thanks for all the replies. It’s been interesting to read what people think it could be. Everyone in the office is concerned about dust etc coming out of the fan as there always seems to be black marks appearing on the ceiling around the vents. We call health and safety to check it out regularly and they insist it’s fine. I am actually allergic to dust as it sets off my asthma and hayfever type symptoms but I haven’t noticed these symptoms in the office so it may be some other unknown substance coming from the vents.

I think for me it’s either the noise or the moving air. I do notice that my ears start to feel like they are going to pop when the fan is on and my ears are very sensitive to changing pressure. When I’m on a plane that’s landing, the change in air pressure causes my ears to hurt a lot instead of pop.

I don’t think labyrinthitis is contagious. All the occurrences in our office happened some time apart from each other so no obvious link between cases. It’s horrible that so many people in my office have had dizziness symptoms but it does mean that they do understand what I’m going through at the moment and are very helpful. They do try to persuade me though that I have labyrinthitis as they don’t believe the migraine diagnoses even though my symptoms are more migraine than labyrinthitis .

Hopefully they’ll either be able to find another way of cooling down the office or I’ll be able to move offices.

Thanks for your help.


Throwing my two cents in, I can say that I have experienced things similar to what you describe. I can’t say fans as I live for the sound of fans, they do a wonderful job of drowning out the noise in my ears. The type of things that I am referring too are having rooms cause your symptoms to flare up.

Believe it or not acoustics is the big one for me. A room with hard acoustics, where a whisper can be heard across the room, will set if off if there are too many different sounds . A room with too soft of acoustics such as those little rooms they put you in for hearing tests, will set me off pretty quick. I’m not as sensitive as others with lighting, a fluorescent light that is going bad will set me off after a while, but if all the lights in the room are good, it won’t bother me. I also can’t go into the fingernail shops around here, the fumes from all of those chemicals set me off almost instantly.

My point is that we all have our little weird things that will set us off. My guess for that fan would also be mold in the ventilation system. Especially since you say that it is hardly ever turned on. Lack of use will allow dust and mold to accumulate and stir everything up when turned on.

My Sister can’t have over head fans on, it triggers a headache, I do believe it’s a response to the air pressure changes an over head fan can cause.
My Sis dosnt have mav.
fans dont bother me , I live in the QLD so we use them all the time inside.

and Brian yes also good to block out tinitus.