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Smoking and Sinusitis

man smoking a cigarette Sinusitis (also called sinus infection) occurs when your sinuses, which are normally filled with air, become blocked with mucus. As mucus builds up and is unable to drain normally, it creates a breeding ground for germs that can cause infection.

As a result, you may develop symptoms that include the following:

  • Discolored drainage from your nose or the back of your throat
  • Nasal congestion or obstruction
  • Facial pain or tenderness
  • Reduced sense of smell or taste

What are the causes of and risk factors for sinusitis?

Sinus infections can be caused by a variety of issues, including the following:

In addition, a number of factors – including smoking – can increase your risk of developing sinus infections.

In this blog, the board-certified ear, nose, and throat physicians at New York ENT explain more about how smoking is a risk factor for sinus infections.

What does tobacco smoke contain?

Tobacco smoke contains irritating gasses such as ammonia and formaldehyde, which can irritate your airways. This makes your body produce more mucus in response and makes you more likely to develop allergies or a cold, which can increase your chances of also having sinusitis.

What effect does smoking have on your nose and sinuses?

Research has linked not only direct smoking with sinusitis but also secondhand smoke. Smoking can make you more likely to get a sinus infection and also inhibit your body’s ability to fight the illness, and this effect can last for months or even years after you quit smoking.

Your nose and sinuses are lined with tiny hair-like structures called cilia. They move in a rhythmic beat that moves mucus harmlessly down the back of your throat, where it’s swallowed.

Smoking causes cilia to become paralyzed, which stops mucus from being able to drain freely. Since your nose and sinuses produce a quart or two of mucus a day, it can quickly build up and create a breeding ground for germs that can cause a sinus infection.

This, combined with your body’s attempt to fight the infection, can cause cilia to be lost. Fortunately, if the microbes are removed and the infection is brought under control, the cilia can regrow and resume their normal function.

A sinus infection can be much more than a short-term annoyance. In cases of chronic sinusitis, symptoms last for 12 weeks or more, despite attempts to treat them, and can cause lingering symptoms including fatigue.

Smoking is harmful to your overall health, in addition to your nose and sinuses. If you’re experiencing symptoms of sinusitis, make an appointment today with the doctors at New York ENT. We’ll diagnose the underlying cause of your sinusitis, which will allow us to effectively treat your condition and help you breathe easier.

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