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Can a Sinus Infection Cause a Sore Throat?

A sore throat can just be a symptom of a common cold that will soon clear up. Other times, however, it can be an indication that you may have a sinus infection.

In this blog, the board-certified ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctors with New York ENT explain how a sinus infection can cause a sore throat, as well as other symptoms.

What is a sinus infection?

A sinus infection occurs when your nasal passages become infected. Normally, the sinuses are hollow cavities that are filled with air. When they become blocked, however, they fill with fluid, which creates a breeding ground for germs that can cause an infection.

This type of blockage can be caused because of the following:

  • Colds
  • Allergies
  • Bacteria
  • Nasal polyps – grape-like growths on the lining of your nose
  • Deviated septum – a severely crooked or off-center wall of cartilage and bone that divides your nose into two nostrils

What are common sinus infection symptoms?

Sinus infection symptoms can include the following:

  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Hoarseness
  • Headache
  • Stuffy, congested nose
  • Runny nose
  • Fatigue
  • Facial pain or pressure
  • Fever
  • Reduced sense of smell or taste
  • Bad breath
  • Yellowish or greenish nasal discharge
  • Pain in the upper teeth

In some cases, a sinus infection – and its accompanying symptoms - can become chronic, lasting for weeks despite attempts to treat it.

Can a sinus infection cause a sore throat?

A sinus infection can cause thick mucus to drain down the back of your throat in larger, more noticeable quantities. Normally, it’s able to be mixed with saliva and slip down the back of your throat without you even noticing. But as more mucus is produced, it builds up as your inflamed sinuses are unable to drain it normally.

As it drains down the back of your throat, you may feel a tickling sensation that indicates a condition known as post nasal drip. It can also make your throat feel itchy or cause a sore throat.

What are the treatment options?

The type of treatment you need depends on your sinus infection symptoms as well as what’s causing your infection.

Common types of treatment include the following:

For symptoms:

  • Decongestants – can dry the nasal cavity, but shouldn’t be used for more than a few days
  • Saline spray – to rinse out the nasal cavity several times a day
  • Corticosteroid spray – to help reduce inflammation
  • Pain relievers – to reduce facial pain and pressure

For underlying conditions:

  • Allergy treatment – such as prescription medication, nasal sprays, antihistamines, and decongestants. Allergy shots can also be used in order to build a tolerance to the substance that’s causing your allergy.
  • Antibiotics – These will only help if your sinus infection and sore throat are caused by a bacterial infection.
  • Surgery – If more conservative forms of treatment aren’t effective, surgery may be needed to correct an underlying structural issue.

The following are types of surgery commonly used to treat sinus infections:

  • Balloon sinuplasty – a procedure in which a small balloon is inserted, inflated, and removed from your sinus passages in order to open and clear them
  • Septoplasty – surgery to correct a deviated septum
  • Polypectomy – surgery to remove nasal polyps
  • Turbinectomy – surgery to reduce the size of nasal turbinates, which are structures on the side wall of the nose

If you’re suffering from a sore throat or other symptoms that could indicate the presence of a sinus infection, make an appointment today with New York ENT. Our board-certified ENT doctors offer the latest, most effective treatments to provide you with the best results and relieve your symptoms.

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