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DrSugar Answers: Sinus Infection Prevention?

DrSugar is in the house and answering your questions.

Dear DrSugar,
My husband gets a sinus infection every year. This year it came early and he took antibiotics after fighting it for two weeks to no avail. Well, it seems to be back in a low grade way and it is making him snore, which keeps me up at night! What can he do to boost his immune system to win the battle going on in his sinuses?
—Sleepless Wife of a Snorer

How quickly cold and flu season has returned to all our lives. If you or one of your loved ones fights sinusitis all Winter long, you can see DrSugar's suggestions for fighting the good fight when you


Sinus infections are very common, especially during cold and flu season. Sinusitis is generally defined as either acute (less than four weeks of symptoms), sub acute (four to 12 weeks of symptoms) and chronic (greater than 12 weeks of symptoms). Acute sinus infections are associated with symptoms such as facial pain, headache, sinus drainage, and fever. Chronic sinusitis symptoms are similar but generally less severe than those of acute sinusitis, and include persistent sinus drainage, chronic facial pain or headaches, and chronic sore throat and/or post-nasal drip. It sounds like your husband had acute sinusitis that developed into sub acute or chronic sinusitis. Inflammation of the sinuses is most commonly caused by viral upper respiratory infections and seasonal sinus allergies. This inflammation can lead to bacterial invasion of the sinuses and irritation of the sinus tissues.

Prevention of sinus infections is aimed at preventing things that cause sinus inflammation, like viral upper respiratory infections and allergies. Preventing viral infections includes simple things like hand washing, reducing stress, avoiding close contact with those with viral illnesses, and eating a well-rounded diet. Treating allergy symptoms with antihistamines can prevent sinus infections by reducing inflammation of the sinuses. Avoiding dry sinuses with the use of saline nasal spray or a humidifier can also improve sinus health. Many ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialists recommend the neti pot at the onset of symptoms or for chronic sinusitis to improve drainage and reduce irritation of the sinuses. Treatment of chronic sinusitis can also include medications such as decongestants, antihistamines, and nasal steroids. Check out our health guide for extensive information on sinusitis.

In the interim, I suggest investing in some quality earplugs so your husband's snoring doesn't interfere with your sleep.

If you have a question for DrSugar, send me a private message here and I will forward it to the good doctor.

DrSugar's posts are for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. Click here for more details.

spaghetina spaghetina 8 years
I bought a neti pot after seeing it on Oprah, and thought it was kind of interesting... until I blew water into my ear and suffered from an earache for a couple days because of it. When I got sick a few weeks ago, I picked it back up again to give it another shot, and since it didn't make me feel any better, I gave up on it again. But after days of being stuffed up, and having a sinus infection brewing, I gave it a 3rd try, and actually ended up really loving it. Without getting too graphic, it was really helpful with a nose that was dry in the front, and runny in the back.
kissykiss kissykiss 8 years
good to know, since I'm afraid of controlled drowning!
Savs Savs 8 years
I hate neti pots... it feels like controlled drowning...
jennjennnbubba jennjennnbubba 8 years
I so want a neti pot!
oostarbubblesoo oostarbubblesoo 8 years
saline spray everynight before bed. & turn the heat down at night. I have a sinus infection right now because i forgot to turn down my heat the other night = (
jnj213 jnj213 8 years
I get allergy shots as well as being on medication and nasal sprays. I am allergic to the majority of environmental allergens. Using a warm salty rinse (like used in the neti pot) is one of the best things though, it feels a little odd but is definitely worth it.
princess_eab princess_eab 8 years
I used to have chronic *monthly* sinus infections in Texas. Honestly, I was cured by living in England for a year and for the first time in my life, living indoors without central heat and air conditioning. I strongly believe that central heat/ air systems create a bad environment for sinuses in some people. Other than that, though, I consistently use Flonase nasal spray. It's a mild steroid spray that keeps the sinuses lubricated and swelling reduced. This was the best thing my doctor ever prescribed!! I think with sinuses, prevention is the key. Have him see an allergist/ ENT specialist. He also may have a deviated septum or polyps that require stronger treatment.
starangel82 starangel82 8 years
I use a neti pot... oh you'd be shocked at just how nasty in the inside of your nasal passages are when you first use it. *shudders* It's a little awkward at first in getting used to using it, but I swear, I wouldn't part with my neti pot now. I may actually make it through winter without a sinus infection this time!
4blankwalls 4blankwalls 8 years
I'm not huge on taking something everyday for my stuffy nose, so I'm thinking of trying the neti pot. Sounds weird, but I've used saline sprays, so it's not hugely different.
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