Originally published by Samuel Britten on Medium.
In order to understand why summer weather can affect your sinuses, it helps to have an idea of their anatomy. The sinuses are a system of hollow spaces around your eyes, cheeks and forehead. The cavities are filled with soft, pink tissue that is coated in mucus, a bit like the lining of your nostrils. The purpose of the sinuses isn’t fully understood, but they appear to play a role in humidifying the air that we breathe and they can also affect the sound of our voice.
We aren’t normally aware of our sinuses, but sometimes an infection or allergy can cause the tissue lining them to become inflamed. Mucus can build up inside the sinuses. The result can be symptoms such as stuffiness, a runny nose and the classic sinus headache.
Summer Sinus Problems
Sinus problems are usually linked to either allergies or infections. If you’re mainly affected by sinus infections then you may find that you feel better during the summer as there are fewer colds circulating. However, if you suffer from allergic sinusitis or you’re prone to other sinus problems, you might find the summer months harder than the winter.
- Pollen: if you’re allergic to pollen then it can trigger hayfever and sinusitis. Avoiding the plants that trigger your allergy (if possible) and staying indoors when the pollen count is high should help.
- Dry air: the lining of the nose and sinuses can easily dry out in warm weather. Using a nasal spray or irrigating your nose with saltwater might help.
- Flying: if you’re getting on a plane for your summer holidays, it’s a good idea to use a nasal spray to keep your sinuses hydrated. You should also swallow while taking off and landing to help clear your ears as this can reduce congestion.
- Swimming pools: if you’re going for a dip, wear a nose clip to prevent water from getting into your nose and sinuses. Chlorinated water can irritate the delicate linings.
- Smoke: the smoke from campfires or barbeques can be very irritating for your sinuses, so try to avoid spending time close to them. If there is a fire nearby, you can reduce your exposure by staying downwind as much as possible.
- Air pollution: breathing in car fumes can irritate your sinuses too, but it can be difficult to avoid it when you want to enjoy the summer weather outdoors. Try to pick spaces with less traffic nearby and stay indoors when there is a lot of pollution in the air. Many weather forecasts will warn you when the pollution levels are high.
Being aware of the causes of summer sinus problems should help you to take steps to avoid them. However, if you do experience any issues you can always ask an ENT specialist for more advice.