- If the symptoms of the common cold last longer than 10 days, you might be dealing with a sinus infection.
- Both the anatomy of your nose and other health conditions, such as asthma, can contribute to frequent sinus infections.
- Frequent sinus infections are best diagnosed and treated by a physician.
Sinus infections afflict 31 million people in the United States each year. If you happen to be part of this statistic, you know all too well how exhausting and irritating this health problem can be. Commonly caused by an infection in the sinus cavities, sinus infections produce symptoms such as nasal congestion, sinus pressure, a headache, a runny nose, ear pressure, a post-nasal drip, and even a cough.
INSIDER asked two physicians to share the seven most common reasons for frequent sinus infections.
You have frequent colds that can cause bacterial growth
If you spend most of the cold season blowing your nose, you might be one of the many people who get frequent sinus infections from the common cold.
Celebrity plastic surgeon and ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist, Dr. Andrew Ordon told INSIDER that most acute cases of sinus infections are caused by bacterial growth that occurs due to a common cold, which causes sinus inflammation that can block nasal passages.
You have a crooked or deviated septum that is hindering your sinus drainage pathways
A crooked or deviated septum can cause a blockage of the sinus drainage pathway, which often results in an infection.
Dr. Payam Daneshrad, ENT specialist and facial plastic surgeon at Daneshrad Clinic, told INSIDER that although a course of antibiotics will treat the immediate infection until the underlying obstruction is surgically corrected, you’re at a higher risk of developing frequent sinus infections.
You have nasal allergies that are causing your nasal tissue to swell
Millions of Americans deal with nasal allergies each year. Ordon said that allergens can cause nasal tissue to swell, causing sinus infections. He recommended talking to your doctor about how to manage your allergies and keep sinus inflammation at bay.
According to Daneshrad, treatment can be as simple as avoidance of the offending allergen, such as avoiding cats, taking allergy pills or nasal sprays, or it may require allergy testing and allergy immunotherapy (allergy shots or drops).
You have nasal polyps that are blocking your nasal passages
Nasal polyps, growths in the sinuses, can trigger frequent sinus infections. Ordon said these growths of tissue can cause blockage in the nasal passages, resulting in an infection.
“Treatment for nasal polyps typically involves medications to shrink the polyps, but if drug treatments are unsuccessful, surgery may be necessary to remove them,” he told INSIDER.
Since polyps tend to reoccur, Ordon said that surgery might not provide a permanent solution.
You have asthma, which might be connected to sinus infections
Ordon said that more than half of those who have asthma also have chronic sinusitis (some researchers believe this number is close to 75%). If you have allergies and frequent sinus infections, he said steroid nasal sprays or antihistamines are typically recommended.
You have a weakened immune system putting you at a greater risk of developing sinus infections
If you have a weakened immune system, you’re at a higher risk of developing health problems such as infections. In addition to recurrent pneumonia and bronchitis, frequent sinus infections are also common if your immune system is compromised.
If you are exposed to pollutants, you might get chronic nasal and sinus inflammation
The environment that you live or work in may be contributing to frequent sinus infections, especially if you are exposed to pollutants on a regular basis.
Based on the findings from a 2017 study, researchers at Johns Hopkins found a connection between continuous exposure to pollution and chronic nasal and sinus tissue inflammation. This study was done on mice, though the consequences seen in the mice were said to mimic human chronic sinusitis. Previous studies, however, have found correlations between exposure to air pollution and blocked sinuses, which can lead to sinusitis.
If the symptoms of a sinus infection persist beyond 10 days, Daneshrad said you should seek the aid of a physician.
“If a course of antibiotics does not resolve the infection or if infections recur frequently, then you should be seen by a specialist to determine if there is a physical blockage of the sinuses,” he added.
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