Sinus Infections and Asthma
What's the Connection Between Sinusitis and Asthma?
Many studies have shown a connection between sinus infections and asthma. One study showed that, when compared with those who only have asthma, people who have both sinusitis and asthma:
- Tend to have more severe asthma symptoms
- May have more severe asthma flares
- Are more likely to have disturbed sleep
The risks of developing sinusitis may not be the same for everyone with asthma. The same study showed that sinusitis coupled with asthma was more common in women than men. It also may be more common in whites than other racial groups. Acid reflux (GERD) and smoking may increase the risk of someone with asthma developing sinusitis, too.
The study also suggested that the more severe a person's asthma is, the more debilitating the sinusitis. In people with severe asthma, sinusitis seems to make the asthma symptoms harder to control.
How Are Sinusitis and Asthma Treated?
Treatment is important in preventing sinusitis from worsening. Again, since the conditions are linked, treating sinusitis may have the added benefit of improving your asthma symptoms.
If you have sinusitis and asthma, your health care provider might recommend that you use:
- Steroid nasal sprays to reduce the swelling; easing the inflammation might allow the sinuses to drain normally.
- Decongestant or antihistamine medicines
Always ask your health care provider before using nasal spray decongestants. Overuse can lead to more congestion. You might try spraying warm salt water into the nose, or breathing in steam.
If a secondary bacterial infection has developed in your sinuses, you'll need antibiotics. Your health care provider will probably prescribe them for about 10 to 14 days. Just remember that antibiotics will only work in cases of bacterial infection. They will not help with viruses. Also, you need to follow your health care provider's instructions and take all your antibiotic medicine, even if you start feeling better after a few days.
For people with allergies, controlling exposure to allergens is key. Not only will it reduce your asthma symptoms, but it will also reduce your risk of sinus infections. Avoid any allergic triggers and irritants, like cigarette smoke. You can also ask your health care provider if allergy shots might be helpful.
In some cases, more involved treatments are necessary. Physical problems in the nasal passages can lead to chronic sinusitis. These include narrow nasal passages, a deviated septum, or polyps -- small lumps in the nose. Surgically correcting these problems -- or opening up chronically swollen, inflamed sinuses -- can sometimes resolve the problem.