Sinus Infections

Can a Sinus Infection Make you Cough?

December 9, 2020

5 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

Can a sinus infection make you cough? Yes — a sinus infection can definitely lead to coughing. This particular situation has everything to do with excess mucus and how your sinuses attempt to drain that mucus. 

When you’re dealing with cold symptoms, you’re suffering from allergies, or you have a sinus infection, your body is likely to create more mucus than normal, which can end up draining into the throat. While this sounds rather disgusting, mucus in the throat is pretty common, and it can happen whether you’re sick or not.

However, when this drainage happens persistently for an extended period of time, you can find yourself with a nagging cough. A cough from a sinus infection isn’t necessarily cause for alarm, and it doesn’t mean you automatically need to book an appointment with your doctor. 

Let’s break down coughing during a sinus infection and what a doctor might recommend as treatment. 

How coughing and sinus infections are related to each other

When you experience excess mucus draining into your throat, this is actually known as post nasal drip, and it is just one of the many cold symptoms also associated with chronic sinus infections. Post nasal drip doesn’t just cause coughing, though. It can also bring about a sore throat, a hoarse voice, nausea, and even bad breath.

But why exactly does post nasal drip during a sinus infection lead to coughing? Well, imagine mucus (or anything, really) running down your throat. Is your throat irritated? Probably. Do you feel a tickling sensation? Most likely. All of these sensations can (and usually will) trigger a reaction — that reaction is coughing. 

Unfortunately, all the nose blowing and coughing that you’ll continue to do as a result of the mucus drainage will only lead to more mucus and more irritation. This is why it’s important to understand the best way to stop a sinus infection and relieve post nasal drip.

How do you stop a sinus infection?

If your sinus infection and post nasal drip with cough lasts between 7-10 days, you should be okay handling things at home on your own. To relieve post nasal drip and your cough, you can use antihistamines, nasal saline washes, and natural home remedies (teas, essential oils, spicy foods, etc). 

Be very careful with nasal sprays and certain decongestants, though. These treatment methods can end up thickening your mucus and could potentially make your post-nasal drip and cough worse.

That said, if you have a cough after sinus infection, this also shouldn’t automatically trigger a doctor’s appointment. It can sometimes take up to a couple of weeks for a sinus infection cough to go away completely. As long as you notice your other symptoms clearing up (and not worsening), then you should be good to go.

When do I see a doctor for a sinus infection cough?

If your sinus infection lasts longer than 10 days or if you’re experiencing a really bad post nasal drip (and your other symptoms are not letting up at all), then it might be time to see a doctor. Likewise, if your sinus infection cough lasts longer than 2 to 3 weeks, it also might be time to see a doctor.

At this point, your doctor might recommend antibiotics. However, if you have chronic sinus infections on a regular basis, you might need to consider a more permanent solution. One such treatment option is balloon sinuplasty

Balloon sinuplasty is a minimally-invasive, in-office procedure that takes less than 25 minutes to complete. It is a safe and effective procedure that requires no cutting or removal of bone or tissue.

During this particular procedure, a balloon is inserted into your nasal cavity and then inflated. This process is designed to expand your sinuses and restore proper drainage for an extended period of time. Upon completion, patients report experiencing long-lasting relief from sinus infections and sinus-related issues (three years or more of relief). 

Related content: What happens if a sinus infection goes untreated?

Suffering from chronic sinus infections? Give Kaplan a call.

If this isn’t your first time wondering whether or not a sinus infection can make you cough, it may be time to explore your treatment options. Whether you have recurring sinus infections or a chronic post nasal drip, we can help. 

Dr. Michael Kaplan of Kaplan Sinus Relief has over two decades of experience helping Houstons with sinus-related issues, including sinus issues that affect the respiratory system and snoring. We offer a variety of safe and effective sinus treatment options and are considered leaders in balloon sinuplasty.

If you’d like to learn more about these treatment options or simply find relief from a chronic sinus infection, give us a call or contact us online

More Helpful Articles by Kaplan Sinus Relief: 

Balloon Sinuplasty vs. Endoscopic Sinus Surgery Explained

Does a Sinus Infection Cause Sore Throat?

The 5 Most Common Sinus Pressure Causes

Balloon Sinuplasty FAQ

Balloon Sinuplasty Surgery: The Top 3 Benefits


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