Can a Sinus Infection be Triggered by Humidity?

Man laying down in pain from a sinus infection pinching his painful sinuses

Most of us are familiar with the old cliche “it isn’t the heat, it’s the humidity”. And that’s true. It’s hard to escape oppressive humidity. Activities are less fun when you’re having a difficult time breathing through the muggy air. And humidity can also be more than frustrating, it can trigger a sinus infection.

If you have a sinus infection, how can you tell?

Sinusitis (a sinus infection) is a general type of disorder in a lot of ways. They happen when fluid accumulates in the air pockets behind your face (called sinuses, as you might have suspected). Once this fluid builds up, it can get infected by viruses or sometimes bacteria. This infection can be really uncomfortable and will usually produce even more fluid.

The symptoms of sinus infections include the following:

  • Pressure headaches.
  • Lasting nasal congestion. Usually, if you have blockage caused by a sinus infection, it will linger at least ten days.
  • Continuous sinus drainage.
  • Jaw and tooth pain.
  • A persistent fever or high temperature.

Not every sinus infection will present with all of these symptoms. The general rule of thumb is that if any cold-like symptoms persist or seem especially extreme, you should check in with your primary care doctor to see if you’re dealing with a sinus infection.

Can you really get a sinus infection from humidity?

A sinus infection can be triggered by a large number of underlying conditions. At times, extra fluid can become entrenched after you have a common cold which can become infected and result in lasting illness.

But it seems hard to imagine that humidity could cause a sinus infection.

It isn’t! You really can develop a sinus infection from intense humidity. That’s because when the air becomes sticky, your respiratory system’s defense mechanisms don’t function quite as well as normal.

And for a little thing called cilia, that’s especially true. Cilia are little hairs found all through the nose that move protective mucus around where it’s required. Cilia also help remove harmful pathogens, dirt, dust, and other irritants. 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 outcome.

And even though more germs get in, that isn’t the only reason. Even something as ordinary as excess dust or more extended exposure to allergens can cause the kind of fluid buildup that results in sinus infections.

How much humidity is too much?

In order too work effectively, your cilia and protective mucus do need some humidity. Typically, you won’t have to worry about this too much. But when you see dew points rising into the 70s, it’s a smart plan to take a little care.

Can you protect yourself from humidity-caused sinus infections?

You can decrease your risk of getting a humidity-induced sinus infection, but you can’t eliminate it. There are some steps you can take to keep your sinuses healthier and less prone to infection. Some of the most common include the following:

  • Keep your cilia healthy and in good working order by using nasal sprays: Dry cilia can be just as compromised as overly moist cilia. Nasal sprays can provide, and maintain, just the right amount of moisture.
  • Avoid allergens and irritants: When it’s humid, try to steer clear of things that aggravate your nose. If you have allergies to tree pollen, for instance, avoid a walk through the woods when the dew points are really high. You should also avoid things like the barbecue at the neighbor’s house if smoke irritates your nose.

If you observe that you’re experiencing a lot of sinus infections, including when it’s humid, then it may be a good plan to talk to us. Occasionally, the shape of your sinuses can make you more susceptible to infection. In other situations, we might be able to recommend particular medications that can help counter a recurrence of your symptoms and keep your sinuses healthy.

Start enjoying summer again

There’s so much to do and enjoy during the summer and that makes it a special time of year. You want to be out for a swim, on a hike, or at a sporting event not stuck inside nursing a sinus infection.

One possible factor that can trigger a sinus infection is humidity. If you’re particularly worried about sinus infections, make an appointment with us to discuss preventative measures you can take when the air gets a little extra sticky!

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

Questions? Talk To Us.