Winter months means cold weather and for many, it also means sinus issues. Over 30 million people experience sinusitis, inflammation of the sinuses, which is 12% of adults. We often associate the Winter with experiencing the common cold, flu, and various symptoms like a sore throat, runny nose, and congestion. As COVID also continues to impact people, these symptoms can cause greater alarm and stress. Knowing more about why sinus issues tend to be worse in the Winter and how you can effectively manage your symptoms can help you prioritize your health and wellness this Winter.
Sinus Problems in the Winter
There are a few reasons that sinus problems are worse in the Winter. Colder weather means drier air and staying indoors with others which contribute to the development of symptoms and spreading of contagious viruses. Common sinus related issues that can be exacerbated in the Winter include the following:
- Nasal congestion: a common symptom that is experienced in Winter months is nasal congestion. This occurs because the nose gets warm and humidifies inhaled air. The moisture evaporates from the lining of the nasal passage which is also exposed to dry air (due to lower temperatures and cold weather). This causes the lining of the noise to experience irritation and inflammation resulting in excess mucus being produced, leading to a runny nose and congestion.
- Colds & sinus infections: excess mucus can produce a cold as well as obstruct the sinuses. The mucus can get stuck and not drain, causing bacteria to develop which can produce a sinus infection.
- Flu: because Winter months are colder, people stay indoors more and turn the heat on. This facilitates the circulation of dry air which can further impact the lining of the nose and reduce the mucus membrane’s capacity to block viruses from entering the nasal airways. This can make people more susceptible to the flu as well as spreading it to others they are in close proximity to indoors.
- Ear Infections: ear infections are typically caused by bacterial or viral infections in the middle ear. Ears are particularly vulnerable in colder months because they are exposed. Cold weather can impact blood flow in the ears, contribute to tinnitus, or cause ear pain.
These symptoms can be unpleasant to experience, especially consistently. But there are effective ways they can be managed and alleviated, reducing their impact in everyday life.
Tips to Manage Sinus Issues
There are a few ways you can manage your symptoms at home. Be sure to be proactive and address symptoms right away which can help prevent infections. A few tips include:
- Nasal irrigation: this involves draining and moisturizing your nasal passages. Nasal irrigation can be done in a few ways including using a neti pot or other device that allows you to drain the nostrils with water. You can also breathe in steam, use a vaporizer etc.
- Decongestants: you can access a range of over the counter decongestants which alleviate nasal congestion. Decongestants also alleviate common flu and cold symptoms.
- Additional tips: use a humidifier in your living space, stay hydrated, use over the counter pain medications to alleviate pain etc.
If your symptoms are severe – headache, fever, facial pain – be sure to see a doctor. Also, if symptoms last more than 10 days, you should seek medical attention.
Tips to Stay Healthy During the Winter
There are several tips you can integrate into your everyday life to help you stay healthy during winter months. A few include:
- Stay warm: there are many ways you can stay warmer during Winter months including avoiding staying outdoors for long periods of time as well as wearing Winter gear – hats, scarves, earmuffs, layering outerwear etc.
- Yearly flu shot: be sure to stay up to date on vaccines, boosters, and flu shots. The seasonal flu shot reduces your risk of catching the flu and experiencing severe symptoms.
- Wash hands: wash your hands regularly and after any activity. This helps prevent bacteria from building up and making you sick. Also, clean high tough surface areas as well as use hand sanitizer to reduce exposure to bacteria.
These strategies can help you stay healthy during the Winter. Contact us today to learn more about how to best manage any sinus issues you may experience.