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Can Stress Cause Sinus Problems

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Nasal congestions, pain and discomfort may not signify cold, since cold is sometimes mistaken for sinusitis. Sinus infections can be painful and debilitating, affecting your functionality and well being. Although stress is required for productivity, it can sometimes be crippling, especially when it is in excess levels.

High levels of stress weaken your immune system, making you susceptible to infections, including sinusitis.

This causes your body’s metabolism not to function properly, making you develop unhealthy habits as coping skills for stressful situations.

You may consider the impact of stress as short-term effects meanwhile they can become threatening lifelong problems.

Can Stress Cause Sinus Infections

Prolonged stress has negative effects on your body that can affect your normal body metabolic activities. Sinusitis can be a trigger as one effect of stress and anxiety.

This makes it easier for viruses, bacteria, fungi, and infections to take control of your body and make you sick. Besides these, you are more vulnerable to diseases and sinus irritants such as dust and particles.

The cilia in your nose are responsible for guarding your nose against infections when stress-related infections attack the cilia. It makes it easier for bacteria to enter your body and infect your sinuses.

How Is Stress Associated With Sinus Infection

It is common knowledge that stress creates a list of problems such as headaches, nausea, blood pressure. Stress can also increase your risk of having long-term illnesses.

Stress and anxiety can affect your sinuses by weakening your immune system. Stress can increase your susceptibility to infections and other health problems. When this happens, your body becomes vulnerable to germs and infections.

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What Is A Sinus Infection

Sinus infection has similar symptoms to cold, hence often mistaken as severe cold. However, unlike colds, it is caused by bacteria infections. It is an inflammation of the sinuses.

This infection is commonly known as sinusitis, it is caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi in other cases.
Sinuses can be in various parts, such as on both sides of the bridge of the nose, behind the forehead and eyebrows, and directly in front of the brain, right behind the nose.

The sinus is filled with tiny hair-like particles and a thin layer of mucus that prevents dust and germs, which when blocked, causes swelling that traps mucus in the sinus and results in infections.

There are 3 types of sinus infections:

Acute sinusitis

Lasting for 4 weeks or thereabouts.

Subacute sinusitis

Occurs for as long as 4 to 12 weeks.

Chronic sinusitis

This type is more severe and lasts over 12 weeks.

Recurrent sinusitis

With frequent episodes happening several times a year.

Symptoms of sinusitis are usually similar to signs of a bad cold and include nasal congestion, headache, fever.

Types Of Sinus Infections

There are 4 categories of sinus infections with differences and similarities in their duration and symptoms.

Acute sinusitis

This lasts for about 2 to 4 weeks. It may start as or with symptoms that seem alike to that of a cold. Symptoms include runny nose, congestion, toothache, loss of smell.

Subacute Sinusitis

This is most likely to last for as long as 4 to 12 weeks.

Chronic Sinusitis

It’s a more serious type of sinus infection caused by factors such as chronic allergies, environmental problems. Chronic sinusitis is associated with asthma and allergies.

Duration lasts for 12 weeks or more with symptoms including nasal blockage and congestion, runny nose, pus from the nasal area.
Allergic fungal sinusitis is also a form of chronic sinusitis associated with nasal congestion.

Recurrent Sinusitis

This happens in episodes that are frequent and occasionally several times a year. Invasive Fungal Sinusitis is a much more aggressive and fatal type of infection.

Diagnosis Of Sinus Infections

A series of examinations is first performed by your doctor. This includes questions on symptoms you may experience, such as fever, pain, loss of smell, coughing, phlegm, functionality and overall wellbeing. A closer look at the insides of your nose is necessary to check the color of secretions and if the membranes are swollen. In rare cases, your physician will take a sample of secretion to test for germs.

What Are The Symptoms Of Sinus Infections

Acute sinusitis and chronic sinusitis are often mistaken for the other since they both share similarities in symptoms. Although pain is not severe in acute sinusitis. Common signs that you may be experiencing sinus infections include:

  • Swollen and/or tender sinus
  • Pain between and behind your eyes
  • Headaches that may be severe and occur mostly at night
  • Fever and/or chills
  • Swelling and redness
  • Decrease in or loss of smell
  • Sore throat
  • Stiffness and congestion of your nasal cavity
  • Toothache or pain
  • Mucus dripping down the back of the throat
  • Coughing during the day or at night
  • Fatigue
  • Pressure in ear
  • Halitosis or bad breath
  • Abnormal nasal discharge which may be yellow or greenish
  • Face tenderness, especially around the bridge of your nose or under your eyes
  • Pressure or pain in your cheeks or forehead

What Causes Sinus Infections

Sinusitis is an inflammation caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Besides, certain environmental factors can also trigger it, such as


Bad cold or flu is mostly caused by a virus or by bacteria in rare cases. This can eventually result in acute sinusitis. However, a bacterial attack may arise along with a viral infection.


Allergies arise because of your body’s reaction to infections. People with nasal allergies are prone to sinus irritation. When bacteria trigger inflammation, the mucus membranes surrounding your sinus swells and prevents fluids from draining out.

Weakened Immune System

Individuals with weakened immune systems are more likely to have sinus infections than others. This is because their immune system is not strong enough to combat bacteria, infections and their excesses.

Environmental Factors

Chemicals, smoke or cigarette smoke can increase your risk of having sinus infections

Risk Factors For Sinus Infections

Risk factors increase your likelihood of developing sinus infections. These are:


Smoking exposes you to smoke that affects and leaves you at a higher risk of having sinusitis.

Nasal Obstruction

Facial bone abnormalities, swollen adenoids, cleft palate polyps. These conditions affect your nasal area and create blockages that may prevent successful mucus drainage.

Certain Medical Conditions

Recent colds, allergies, chronic illnesses, diabetes, and other infections are likely to trigger sinus infections.


Although adults are more likely to experience sinusitis, it can also occur in young adults and children.

Environmental Factors

Air pollution, high altitudes can cause nasal irritation and lead to sinus inflammation

Effects Of Sinus Infections

Acute sinusitis can become chronic if you don’t treat it early. This can cause nasal poly, which may lead to difficulty in breathing through your nose and loss of a sense of smell.

In severe cases, inflammation may spread to other parts of your body, like your eyes or brain. It may also be accompanied by symptoms like high fever, swelling around your eyes, red inflamed skin, sensitivity to light, facial pain, stiff neck. Contact your doctor and seek medical advice and treatment immediately after you notice the onset of these signs.

How To Get Relief From Sinus Infection


Antibiotics are administered depending on the type of sinusitis. This is usually from 3 to 28 days. These do not ease symptoms but eliminate infections by attacking the bacterial root cause. Consult your doctor before taking any medication.

Nasal Decongestant Spray

A nasal spray helps shrink swollen nasal passages for a better flow of sinuses drainages. Get recommendations for the use of a nasal decongestant spray as overuse can cause complications.


Surgeries are only required in severe cases after drugs use yields no desired effect. A surgery fixes defects in the nasal passages, removes nasal polyps, and open closed passages. Surgery may be performed under anaesthesia and patients are free to go home the same day, depending on their current condition.

Sinusitis can not be prevented, however, certain activities can reduce your risk of contracting it.

  • Avoid smoking, especially second-hand smokes
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Refrain from constantly touching your face, nose, mouth, or eyes
  • Stay away from things that trigger your allergies

It can be quite frustrating to have to battle the recurrence of sinus infections. Some inflammations may dissipate without treatment, while others may not. It may be challenging when you have to balance the discomfort with your daily routine. Here are some things you can do to relieve discomfort:

  • Rest well
  • Get enough rest, lie on your side or prop yourself up with a pillow to help breathe better.
  • Take plenty of fluids
  • Drinking warm fluids can provide a soothing sensation to your throat
  • Apply Heat to help relieve pressure and open up blocked passages. You can do this by either breathing in steam from a hot towel. It is advisable to use soft cotton towels to prevent further irritation.
  • Stay away from alcohol, it can worsen your swelling


While there are a variety of treatments for sinus infections, it is usually best to curb stress to prevent excesses. Exercising regularly, eating a proper diet, daily breathing exercises, mindfulness, yoga, are all-natural effective ways to manage stress and anxiety.

It is also best to use early intervention immediately when you notice the onset of infections. Seek medical advice and visit your doctor or health care centre if complications arise.

[lightweight-accordion title=”Article Sources”]
1. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: Sinus infection

2. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine: Sinusitis

3. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. Manual: Sinusitis

4. Winchester Hospital: Health library

5. Family Doctor: Sinusitus

6. Kaplan Sinus Relief: Does stress cause sinus problems

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