If you're one of the many people who suffer from chronic sinusitis, you know that it can be a year-round struggle. However, you might have noticed that your symptoms tend to worsen during winter months.
In this blog, Dr. Conrad McCutcheon and the team at Memorial Village Sinus and Hearing in Houston, Texas, explain why chronic sinusitis is worse in the winter and provide you with practical tips to alleviate your discomfort.
5 reasons why chronic sinusitis is worse in the winter
Sinus infections can develop any time of year, but if you’re prone to chronic sinusitis, you may notice that your symptoms flare up in winter because:
1. Dry indoor air aggravates your sinuses
During winter, indoor heating systems tend to dry out the air in your home. This can cause your nasal passages to become parched. This dryness can lead to irritation and inflammation in your sinus tissues. In addition to exacerbating sinusitis, dry air can also trigger asthma and other respiratory conditions.
Tip: Invest in a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
2. Colder air can constrict your airways
Breathing in cold air can cause your nasal passages and airways to constrict and make it more difficult for mucus to drain properly. Keep this in mind especially if you visit family in colder states or travel to snowy mountains for ski trips during the winter.
To combat this, wear a scarf or a mask over your nose and mouth when you're outside to warm the air before it reaches your sinuses.
3. Increased time indoors promotes allergen exposure
Although winter in Houston isn’t terrible 一 the daily average temperature is 67 degrees! 一 you still tend to spend more time indoors. The more you’re inside, the more exposure you have to indoor allergens like dust mites, pet dander, and mold. Allergies can exacerbate chronic sinusitis symptoms.
Regularly clean and dust your living space, and consider using air purifiers to reduce allergen levels.
4. Viral infections are more common during winter
Cold and flu viruses are rampant during winter, and they can lead to sinus infections or worsen existing chronic sinusitis. Wash your hands frequently, avoid close contact with people who are sick, and get your flu shot to reduce the risk of viral infections.
5. Dry sinuses can impair mucus flow
When your sinuses are dry, it can hinder the normal flow of mucus and trap it in your nasal passages and sinuses. To keep mucus moving, stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
What you can do about chronic sinusitis in winter
If you’re struggling with the symptoms of sinusitis, consider:
When your sinuses are feeling particularly congested or painful, apply a warm compress to your face to help alleviate discomfort and encourage mucus drainage.
Breathing in warm steam is comforting. You can make a simple steam inhalation tent with a towel and boiling water.
Pour the boiling water into a big mixing bowl. Drape a towel over the back of your head, turn on a timer, and shut your eyes before slowly lowering your head toward the water. Keep a distance of about 8-12 inches from the water, and inhale slowly and deeply through your nose for 2-5 minutes.
Consider using a saline nasal rinse to keep your nasal passages moist and clear of irritants. These rinses can be especially helpful in dry winter months.
Get help for your chronic sinusitis
Chronic sinusitis can be especially challenging in the winter, but by understanding the reasons behind its aggravation and implementing proactive measures, you can find relief and enjoy a more comfortable winter season.
Even with these tips, you can benefit from professional care. If your chronic sinusitis symptoms persist or worsen during the winter, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at Memorial Village Sinus and Hearing.
Dr. McCutcheon can assess your condition with an in-office sinus-optimized CT scan using the MiniCAT 2020™, recommend appropriate treatments (including medication), and explore potential surgical options or balloon sinuplasty if necessary to relieve pressure and pain.
Don’t let chronic sinusitis ruin your winter plans! Call Memorial Village Sinus and Hearing for a sinusitis evaluation at 281-822-3777. You can also request an appointment online.