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Sinus Infection Symptoms and COPD

By February 10, 2011

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Many people with COPD complain that they get frequent sinus infections that make their lives miserable. In fact, there is growing evidence to support that there is a direct link between COPD and chronic sinus infections, also known as sinusitis. What are the symptoms of sinus infection and what can you do about them?

Symptoms of Sinus Infection

There are four major pairs of sinuses:  the frontal sinuses in the forehead, the maxillary sinuses behind the cheekbones, the ethmoid sinuses behind the eyes and the sphenoid sinuses, also behind the eyes.

Symptoms of sinus infection depend upon which of the sinuses are affected, but, may include:

  • pain or pressure in different areas of the face or head that may get worse when coughing, sneezing, bending over, lying down or sitting upright
  • headache of varying degrees, depending on which sinuses are infected
  • post-nasal drip
  • nasal discharge
  • visual disturbances
  • fever
  • sore throat
  • bad breath unrelated to dental problems
  • toothache or sensitivity of the teeth

When to Seek Medical Attention

Left untreated, sinus infections can cause severe complications and possibly even death. Call your health care provider if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, or any of the following:

  • swelling anywhere around the face or eyes
  • visual disturbances including dilated pupils, swelling of the eye, or double vision
  • personality changes including an altered level of consciousness
  • seizures
  • high fever

Self-Care for Sinus Infections

While your doctor is likely to prescribe medications to treat your sinus infections, including antibiotics, oral decongestants and nasal sprays, the following self-care tips can be done in the comfort of your own home:

  • drink plenty of water (unless your doctor tells you otherwise)
  • inhale steam several times a day (leaning over a bowl of hot water with a towel over your head works great)
  • use over-the-counter expectorants like Robitussin or Mucinex (unless your are told otherwise by your doctor)
  • take an over-the-counter pain reliever recommended by your doctor
  • use a Neti-pot for nasal irrigation (compare prices here)

Not sure about your symptoms? Check out Symptom Checker.

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February 24, 2011 at 11:02 am
(1) Sharon Blakely says:

You have given us some very good information about “COPD and Sinus Infections”, but I would like to know what the link is. Inhalers….etc.?

February 25, 2011 at 1:26 pm
(2) copd says:


Thanks for asking this very important question. That COPD and sinus infections coexist is thought to be because both the upper and lower airways of the respiratory system exhibit a similar inflammatory response and both have a similar reaction and exposure to allergens and respiratory irritants like tobacco smoke, air pollution etc. Hope that helps a bit and thanks for bringing that up.

February 25, 2011 at 3:10 pm
(3) Lee McLaughlin says:

That was a very inadequate answer. You’re right that COPD & Chronic sinusitis are both accompanied by inflammation, but you fail to state why! This is an issue with not only these 2 conditions, but all autoimmune disease. What we need for all these maladies is a better anti-inflammatory. Something that inhibits the NFkB antibody that causes excess production of epithelial cells that in turn cause the inflammation. There are a couple of PDE4′s that are either in study( Vinpocetine) & another that has been approved worldwide, except the U.S., called Daxas.

February 25, 2011 at 6:31 pm
(4) copd says:

I am sorry you feel my answer was inadequate, but, this blog post is not about that particular subject and I did not feel it necessary to go into detail in this particular post. The blog post is about sinus infections symptoms. Perhaps in another article I will delve into more detail about the relationship between the two, so, stay tuned if you are interested in that. Thanks for your comment, anyway.

February 26, 2011 at 9:02 am
(5) Gerry Mitchell says:

I used to get sinus infections all the time but since I moved to Suriname I have not had any infections at all. I’m doing ten times better here. I don’t know why. I still have to use advair twice a day but that’s all. There’s something here that’s eliminating allot of the symptoms. Someone needs to check it out.

March 17, 2011 at 10:46 pm
(6) Bill Miller says:

Dr. Hirohito Kita from Mayo Clinic published his research on sinusitis in 1999. In his findings he stated that 96% of sinusitis is caused by a fungal infection.

After reading this I found that olive leaf extract was a strong anti-fungal and I subsequently found olive leaf estract nasal spray. Two sprays in each nostril and about 20-30 minutes and the headaches associated with sinusitis were gone.

Prior to that I tried tylenol, advil, aspirin, etc. for headache pain relief and not one of them did a thing.

In addition I began soaking my mother’s spare oxygen tube in apple cider vinegar and rinsing in water afterwards. This kept the problem from returning.

Most physicians know that antibiotics will do nothing for sinusitis patients. The over prescribing of antibiotics for fungal infections and viruses is very common and will do absolutely nothing to resolve the problem. In fact, antibiotics will ensure the chronicity of the fungal related sinusitis.

There is additional information on Dr. Kita and his research at my web site listed above and at Mayo Clinic’s site.

I hope this helps others with this problem. It sure helped my mother and it was nice to have the intelligence of a Mayo Clinic resercher behind it all.

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