Hot, humid days can feel unpleasant and oppressive. They may also increase your risk of developing a sinus infection.
A sinus infection or sinusitis occurs when fluid builds up in the sinuses, leading to inflammation and, eventually, infection. They are often caused by a cold or other virus. However, bacterial and fungal infections, as well as chronic allergies, can cause sinusitis as well.
Common symptoms include but are not limited to sinus pressure and pain, nasal congestion, thick nasal discharge, runny nose, tooth pain, headache and fever.
How Humidity Increases Risk of Sinus Infection
While obviously, your sinuses need some humidity to stay moist and work properly, too much can lead to problems. Very high humidity can affect cilia, the tiny hairs in your nose that help move mucus and filter out irritants like viruses and allergens from your nose. When the air becomes too humid, cilia don’t work as well, leaving you at a greater risk of sinus infection.
Humidity Can Increase Nasal Congestion
Research has also shown that humidity can affect how stuffed up you feel. A study published in 2011 had participants breathe air from three boxes: one containing room air at normal humidity, another containing dry air at room temperature and the third containing cold air, then rate their symptoms of nasal congestion.
Researchers found that participants experienced reduced nasal congestion after breathing from the cold air box and the dry air box compared to the room air box. Additional calculations revealed that lower humidity was associated with decreased feelings of congestion.
Stop Humidity from Affecting Your Sinuses
While humidity in Phoenix is usually on the low side, summer months can be more humid. Consider taking the following steps to protect your sinuses on high-humidity days.
- Avoid allergens when humidity is high. Allergy symptoms can lead to sinus infections, so avoid your triggers when humidity is high. This may mean keeping your windows and doors closed and avoiding outdoor areas like Encanto Park, where you might encounter more allergens.
- Using nasal spray. Nasal sprays can help your cilia stay healthy and continue working properly by providing and maintaining the right moisture levels in the nose.
- Talk to an ENT specialist. If you’re dealing with chronic sinus infection symptoms or frequent infections, make an appointment with an ENT specialist. You may require medication to help clear the infection or have a pre-existing condition like nasal polyps that are putting you at a greater risk of infection. Treating those conditions can help reduce your sinus problems.
For more information or to schedule an appointment to address your symptoms, call Arizona Desert Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists today.