Sinus infection (sinusitis) is related to asthma. The sinuses are located in the cheekbones, around the eyes and behind the nose in hollow cavities. The sinuses help keep the air that is inhaled warm, moist and filtered by being lined with mucus. If something blocks the mucus from draining normally, an infection can occur.
The asthma and sinusitis relationship – also known as rhinosinusitis – exists because the conditions are quite similar and both affect airways. In fact, there are high rates of allergic rhinosinusitis in those with asthma. Sinusitis symptoms include sneezing, congestion and inflammation of the nasal passages. In asthmatics, the same things that trigger asthma can also trigger the nasal passages to become inflamed, thus contributing to sinusitis.
Presence of sinusitis in asthma patients
Numerous studies show a relationship between asthma and sinusitis. One study in particular compared the two respiratory conditions and found asthma symptoms worsen for asthmatics with sinusitis, asthma flares become more severe and their sleep is more disturbed.
Other research found that developing sinusitis in asthma patients is more common in women than men. Acid reflux and smoking can also increase the risk of developing sinusitis in asthma patients. Furthermore, the more debilitating a person’s asthma is, the more severe sinusitis will be.
In an alternative study of 78 asthma patients, 50.7 percent of them also showed evidence of sinusitis. Those asthmatics had lower forced expiratory volume within one second compared to asthmatics without sinusitis. The study revealed that although sinusitis can reduce lung function at baseline, it does not contribute to long-term lung impairment after a three-year follow-up.
Asthma related chronic sinusitis vs. allergic rhinitis
Both chronic sinusitis and allergic rhinitis share many symptoms, so the two are often confused with one another. However, there are some distinct differences between the two. For example, symptoms of allergic rhinitis are a blocked nose, runny nose, watery and itchy eyes, sneezing and itchy mouth, nose and ears.
Symptoms of chronic sinusitis include throbbing pain in the cheek area, forehead and eyes, yellowish or greenish nasal discharge, loss of smell, aches and pain in the face or jaw and even fever or nausea.
A fever is a sign of infection and is related to sinusitis; therefore, a fever will not be experienced in allergic rhinitis.
Additionally, there are differences in treatment. Treatment for allergic rhinitis consists of preventing an allergic attack and avoiding allergens, and sinusitis treatment involves antibiotics and nasal decongestions.
Tips to prevent sinusitis from triggering asthma
Sinusitis is an infection, so in order to prevent it you must take the necessary steps to protect yourself from getting infected. Tips to prevent sinusitis include:
- Practice good hygiene – wash your hands, use hand sanitizers, avoid people who are sick.
- Get the flu shot.
- If you have asthma, speak to your doctor as symptoms of asthma can worsen if you contract sinusitis.
- Keep breathing equipment clean, i.e., asthma inhalers or mouthpieces.
- Keep your nose moist.
- Avoid dry indoor air – use a humidifier.
- Avoid products that give off fumes.
- Get yourself tested for allergies.
- Avoid swimming for long hours in chlorinated pools.
Treatments for asthma and sinusitis
- Avoid upper respiratory infection – the prevention tips above can help you with that.
- Treat all respiratory infections promptly.
- Manage your allergies.
- Avoid cigarette smoking, smoke in general and air pollution – pay attention to news reports or air pollutants.
- Use an air filter or humidifier within your home and bedroom.
- Use an air purifying system within your home.
Sometimes treating asthma can worsen sinusitis and vice versa. Working closely with your doctor can provide you with more effective treatment tips in order to successfully treat both conditions.
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