When the thermometer hits 100 degrees, it is no surprise that we flock to the lake, beach, or pool. These weekend getaways allow us to beat the heat and relax by the water. But, have you ever returned home feeling stuffy, with a painful headache and runny nose? How is it that we can catch a cold during the hottest days of the year? Summertime sinuses are pesky, but if you know what causes the infection, you can avoid it.
Hot days and your sinuses
Your sinuses connect to your nose and are lined with mucous membrane. Cilia are tiny hair-like structures that line your mucous membranes; they work together to clear mucus out of your sinuses. On hot days the mucus in your sinuses thickens. This thickening makes it harder for cilia to clear mucus out of your mucous membranes. Mucus buildup causes the stuffy, congested feeling during a cold or sinus infection. Furthermore, bacteria, fungus, and cold and flu germs can cause your sinuses to become inflamed. The most common cause of summer inflammation is allergies. As you tend to spend more time outside during the summer, you are exposing yourself to the allergens that will irritate your sinuses.
Summertime sinuses and bad breath
As your mucus thickens and your sinuses become irritated, excess mucus becomes stuck in your sinus cavities. When excess mucus builds up, it allows viruses in your nasal passages to multiply. This buildup is where a sinus infection begins. Colds and sinus infections cause bad breath by drying out your mouth. As the trapped mucus accumulates and pressure builds, you will use your mouth to breathe, drying it out.
Infected mucus that drains out of your sinuses and down your throat, will come into contact with the air you breathe. This mucus smells bad on its own, but when combined with a dry mouth, it worsens. This effect is temporary, and will lessen as your infection clears.
Summertime sinuses and toothaches
Sinus infections and inflammation can cause discomfort to upper rear teeth. These teeth are closest to the sinuses causing them to be affected first. Usually, sinus toothaches do not indicate issues with individual teeth. Rather, they are the result of increased pressure in the nasal cavity disturbing the roots of your teeth. Toothaches prompted by sinus infections will subside as the infection clears.
What can you do?
- To avoid a sinus infection or summer cold, steer clear of known allergens. Avoid mowing the lawn when pollen counts are high. Try and spend less time around outdoor irritants, such as mold and ragweed. If you expect exposure to these allergens, try rubbing Vaseline around your nostrils to stop some of the pollens from entering your nose.
- Drink plenty of fluids to keep mucus thin. Warm teas, especially ginger tea, can be helpful in decreasing inflammation.
- If you have troublesome allergies, consider taking antihistamines on summer days when you will spend long hours outside.
No one wants to return home from a day at the beach with a runny nose. Pay attention to your allergies, and take precautions to avoid a sinus infection this summer. If you are experiencing a long-lasting sinus toothache or lingering bad breath, schedule an appointment at Greenspoint Dental. We are here to help!