Sinusitis: Surprising Causes and When to Seek Treatment

man suffering from sinus infection in bed.

Getting hit with a bad cold that turns into a rough sinus infection can really throw you off. Your head throbs and feels like it’s about to burst. You might think, “Oh, here we go again.” But for you and the other 37 million Americans dealing with this, there are several other reasons for sinusitis that you might not know about.

What Causes Sinus Infections?

Understanding the cause of your sinus infections can help pinpoint ways to reduce your triggers and find effective treatment.

Swimming and Diving

Lots of sinus infections pop up in the summer because of pool chlorine. It irritates and swells up your nose, making mucus get stuck and blocking things up. Bacteria love this damp, dark spot and can cause an infection.

It’s better to skip swimming if you have a cold or sinus infection because it can make things worse.

Nasal Polyps

Nasal polyps are these tiny harmless growths that can mess with your sinuses, causing blockages and swelling. Headaches are a common sign of polyps.

Treatment usually involves using special sprays in your nose, and sometimes surgery might be needed.


Smoking not only causes cancer and other health conditions, but it also bothers your nose, weakens your body’s ability to fight infections, and makes your nose swell and get all inflamed. Smokers tend to have worse sinusitis symptoms than non-smokers.


If you deal with allergies in the spring and fall, they can block up your sinuses and make inflammation worse, making your sinusitis symptoms even worse.

Bacteria and Viruses

This is the tricky part of sinusitis. It could be bacteria or a virus causing the trouble. If a doctor figures out it’s bacteria, they can treat it pretty easily with antibiotics. But if it’s a virus, like from a cold, antibiotics won’t help. In those cases, stuff like over-the-counter decongestants, flu shots, and keeping your hands clean can help avoid a viral sinus infection.

When to See an ENT Specialist for Sinus Infections

Here are some signs you should see a doctor:

  • If you have a really bad headache that doesn’t go away with regular medicine
  • If your symptoms stick around for more than 10-14 days or get worse
  • If your snot turns yellow or green
  • If your face swells up and you have a fever
  • If your face hurts under your eyes and along your nose
  • If you finish your antibiotics but still feel lousy

If you’re dealing with sinusitis issues or keep getting sinus infections, don’t suffer in silence.

Find an Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist near you to explore treatment options.

Want more information?

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