There’s a constant association between illness and winter weather. On the surface, it makes sense: colder conditions mean more time inside, which means more exposure to germs and bacteria that can make you sick. So, it’s only natural to assume that summertime, a season filled with outdoor activities and extra time in the sun, would lead to little-to-no sinus infections, right?
Can sinus infections happen in the summer?
Unfortunately, sinus infections can happen any time of year, and summer is no exception. Depending on when your sinus infection occurs, you might assume that your symptoms (such as nasal congestion, facial pain, and postnasal drip) are due to the tail end of spring allergies. While there is plenty of crossover between the two conditions, your sinus infection can be brought on by a litany of environmental factors that have nothing to do with allergens that irritate your nasal cavities.
What can cause sinus infections in the summer?
The consistent variable with summer sinus infections is inflammation, and many things can happen during the season can bring this out. This includes:
Lack of humidity
Your nasal passages work best when there is enough moisture to keep them lubricated. If you are in an area that is arid, such as Texas or Nevada, the lack of moisture can cause your mucus to thicken and inflame your sinuses.
Many people host bonfires at home or while camping during the summer. Others use the opportunity to burn brush piles provided that there is not an active burn ban. However, the caveat is that prolonged exposure to smoke could irritate the nasal passages and lead to inflammation, which can subsequently lead to an infection.
Kids and adults alike love to get away from the summer heat by swimming. Pools, lakes, and the ocean are popular destinations for cooling off, but they can also be launching pads for sinus issues. Chlorine pool water working through the nasal cavity can irritate and inflame the sinuses, and the bacteria from natural water sources can also lead to an infection. Subsequently, your sinus infection can also cause an ear infection to occur due to the interconnectedness of these two body parts.
How can you treat sinus infections in the summer?
If you find yourself with a sinus infection in the summer, there are several options that have been shown to be effective treating your symptoms. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can relieve pain and fever. Saline irrigations, or washing out the nose with salt water, can relieve symptoms and remove mucus that is hard to blow out. Dr. FP Johns Langford, a CEENTA otolaryngologist at our Concord office, describes other treatment methods that could work. “Nasal steroid sprays can reduce symptoms after fifteen days of use, but the benefit is small (about fourteen people must use them to get one person better), and side effects include headache, nasal itching, and nosebleeds.” Dr. Langford continues by saying, “Decongestants may help you breathe easier and can be taken as a nasal spray (for no more than three days in a row to avoid worsening congestion) or by mouth.”
For recurring infections, you can turn to the experts at CEENTA. Our ENT physicians can provide a thorough examination of your nasal passages and recommend treatment options like balloon sinuplasty for better long-term results.
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. To make an appointment with a CEENTA ENT doctor, you may schedule online, through myCEENTAchart, or by calling 704-295-3000.