There’s that old cliche: it isn’t the heat, it’s the humidity. And that’s true. It’s hard to escape oppressive humidity. Breathing is hard when the weather is muggy and nothing’s quite as fun. And humidity can also be more than aggravating, it can cause a sinus infection.
How do you know you have a sinus infection?
Sinusitis (a sinus infection) is a general sort of disorder in many ways. They happen when fluid accumulates in the air pockets behind your face (called sinuses, as you might have suspected). Once this fluid accumulates, it can get infected by viruses or sometimes bacteria. With that infection comes additional symptoms (and more fluid)–and usually a fair amount of discomfort.
Here are some symptoms to watch for:
- Tooth pain (pressure from your sinuses can make your teeth hurt).
- Lasting nasal blockage. Typically, sinus infection-caused blockage will last for ten days or longer.
- Ongoing drainage of the sinuses.
- Pressure headaches.
Sinus infections will generate any combination of these symptoms. As a general rule, you should seek advice from your primary care physician if you have cold symptoms that don’t seem to go away or are particularly severe.
Can you actually get a sinus infection from humidity?
A sinus infection can be caused by a wide variety of root conditions. In some cases, a common cold can cause extra fluid to become entrenched, fluid that then gets infected and leads to a lengthy illness.
But humidity? It seems like a stretch, right?
It’s not! Very high humidity really can trigger sinus infections. The reason for this is that your respiratory defense processes don’t function at full efficiency when the air is heavy and wet.
And for a little thing known as cilia, that’s particularly true. Cilia are little hairs found throughout the nose that move protective mucus around where it’s needed. Irritants, such as dirt and dust, are also filtered out by these cilia. But when the air becomes exceedingly humid, your cilia cease working at their best (I mean, let’s be honest, don’t we all). And repeated sinus infections can be the result.
And even though more germs get through, that’s not the only reason. Even something as ordinary as extra dust or more prolonged exposure to allergens can cause the sort of fluid buildup that triggers sinus infections.
What is too much humidity?
In order too function effectively, your cilia and defensive mucus do need some humidity. Typically, you won’t need to worry about this too much. But when you notice dew points rising into the 70s, it’s a good idea to take a little care.
Can humidity that triggers infections be protected against?
You can minimize your risk of getting a humidity-induced sinus infection, but you can’t eliminate it. You can safeguard your hearing from infection by taking some steps to keep your sinuses healthier. Here are some of the most common:
- Use nasal sprays to keep your cilia healthy and functional: If your cilia get too dry, for instance, they won’t be capable of protecting you any better than if things are too humid. You can provide your sinuses with the perfect amount of moisture by using nasal sprays.
- Avoid allergens and irritants: When it’s humid, try to steer clear of things that bother your nose. For example, when it’s really humid avoid a walk in the woods if you have allergies to tree pollen. You should also pass on things like the barbecue at the neighbor’s house if smoke aggravates your nose.
It will be a good idea to come in for a consultation if you keep getting ear infections including when it’s humid. Sometimes, the shape of your sinuses can make you more susceptible to infection. In other situations, we may be able to recommend specific medications that can help counter a recurrence of your symptoms and keep your sinuses healthy.
Start appreciating summer again
There’s a lot to do and enjoy in the summer and that makes it an amazing time of year. You want to be out for a swim, on a hike, or at a sporting event not trapped inside nursing a sinus infection.
But humidity can be one factor in developing sinus infections. Make an appointment with us if you’re concerned about sinus infections especially when it’s extra sticky out.