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Sinus Infections and Asthma

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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.
  • Painkillers -- if necessary -- to reduce discomfort.

Always ask your health care provider before using nasal spray decongestants. Sometimes, they can wind up leaving you more stuffed up. 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 can sometimes resolve the problem.

Can Postnasal Drip Trigger Asthma?

Postnasal drip is an unscientific term that refers to the sensation of thick phlegm in the throat, which can become infected. Your glands in the nose and throat produce mucus continuously (1 to 2 pints per day), that helps to cleanse the nasal membranes, helps warm the air you breathe, and traps inhaled foreign matter. Mucus also helps to fight infection.

In normal situations, the throat is moistened by the secretions from the nasal and throat mucous glands. This is part of the mucous-nasal cilia system that defends us from disease. When the amount of liquid secreted by the nose and sinus is reduced and the cilia of the nose and sinus slow down, the fluid thickens and you become very aware of its presence. Because the thick phlegm is unpleasant and often infected, our bodies naturally try to get rid of it by causing us to cough and clear our throats.

Sometimes postnasal drip syndrome is associated with asthma as the thick mucus secretions drain from the back of the nose to the back of the throat, causing throat clearing, cough, and bronchial constriction.

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