Sinusitis flare-ups are common in the winter due to a variety of factors, including changes in barometric pressure; increased exposure to allergens like dust and dander; dry air caused by furnaces, heaters and fireplaces; and cold and flu season. The good news? There are some things you can do to avoid sinusitis and stay healthy. Read on for a roundup of three tips aimed at preventing sinus infections and other sinus problems this winter.
1. Manage your allergies
Allergies are a leading cause of sinus pain in all weather. While spring and fall may be worse for some people due to high pollen counts, cold weather also comes with its fair share of allergens, including dust and danger, which can accumulate more quickly in cold weather when pets and people spend more time indoors and under blankets.
To avoid triggering your winter allergies, vacuum often and keep all bedding and blankets dry and dust-free. It can also help to set up a “pet-free zone” to keep dander at a minimum. Additionally, opening windows and doors — as the weather allows — lets air circulate, while HEPA filters can be used to remove tiny particles from the air. Over-the-counter remedies and corticosteroid nasal sprays can also be used to help relieve pain and prevent symptoms.
2. Lubricate dry sinuses
Between harsh winter air, the drying effect of furnaces and other sources of heat, and seasonal allergies, sinuses can become very dry and irritated during cold weather. This can lead to painful and debilitating sinus symptoms including stuffiness, congestion and infection.
There are several ways to offset the season’s lack of moisture, starting with paying attention to humidity levels in your home. If the air is consistently dry, a humidifier can work wonders. Additionally, while medications like antihistamines can relieve symptoms, they can also have a drying effect. If your OTC allergy medicine is making your sinuses dry, talk doctor about switching to a medication with fewer side effects. Nasal sprays, neti pots, and steamy showers are also effective at hydrating and lubricating your sinuses and nasal passages. You can also make your own nasal irrigation solution, which Harvard Health declares to be the “first line of defense against sinusitis.” Another simple way to keep sinuses hydrated? Drink lots of water.
3. Practice healthy habits
The healthier you are, the better your body is able to ward off colds and infections. The winter season can be a busy one; committing to healthy habits is an invaluable preventative measure.
For starters, getting an annual flu shot can also help you avoid flu-related complications, including sinus infections, according to the CDC. A well-balanced diet, regular exercise and plenty of sleep are all essential to keeping your immune system in optimal shape. If you smoke, meanwhile, kicking the habit can make all the difference. Lastly, don’t forget that viruses can linger longer on surfaces during cold weather to make sure to wash your hands frequently.
While these three strategies can help you reduce your risk of getting sinusitis, they’re not foolproof — especially if you’re living with chronic sinusitis. If you’re suffering from severe and/or ongoing symptoms in the San Antonio, Texas area, book an appointment with American Sinus Institute today to learn about your sinusitis treatment and management options.