Sinus Infections

Can You Have a Cough After a Sinus Infection?

July 17, 2020

5 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

You may notice that even after the core symptoms are gone, you still have a cough after a sinus infection clears up. That’s most likely because there is still lingering inflammation in your sinuses causing post-nasal drip — the backed-up drainage that runs down the back of your throat, often prompting a natural coughing reflex to clear your airway.

When sinuses are just doing their everyday job, they produce mucus to help protect your system from dust, allergens, and pollutants — but that mucus has to drain to keep irritants out. Sinus infections occur when that drainage gets blocked, causing mucus to back up and become more susceptible to bacteria or viruses. 

Discover why you may have a cough after a sinus infection and learn what remedies are available. 

Signs of a sinus infection getting better

When you’re suffering from a sinus infection, the pain, pressure, and nasal congestion can make the days feel long. Fortunately, for most patients, infections clear up in a week or so. (If your symptoms persist more than 10 days or get worse, see a doctor.)

You may use some over-the-counter remedies to help relieve symptoms, such as saline spray, a neti pot, nasal steroid spray, or decongestant medication, but some good signs your sinus infection is getting better include:

  • Increased energy
  • Less nasal congestion/easier breathing
  • No fever
  • No more facial pain or pressure

Remember rest and hydration are always key to kicking a sinus infection. But despite these improvements, you may still experience a lingering cough.

How long does a cough after a sinus infection last?

Most coughs after a sinus infection clear up within a couple of weeks as you continue to feel better and your sinus inflammation resolves, but some people can develop a cough that lasts weeks or even months. A chronic cough after sinus infection could indicate chronic sinusitis or chronic post-nasal drip, which can be exacerbated by allergies, asthma, GERD, smoking, and some medications.

If you’ve been coughing for more than three weeks and your sinus infection has run its course, it’s time to see the doctor. You may need treatment for underlying conditions such as allergies, asthma, and GERD, and if your symptoms are more severe, your doctor may want to rule out pneumonia.

How do I stop coughing from sinus drainage?

Coughing while you’re still experiencing sinus drainage can be annoying and tiring, but you can help alleviate it with over-the-counter treatments that act as post-nasal drip cough treatments. You should always consult your doctor before adopting any long-term treatment, but some of the most accessible remedies to get rid of post-nasal drip include:

  • Drinking lots of water: Staying hydrated thins mucus, allowing it to drain more easily. It’s also good for your overall health.
  • Oral antihistamines: These drugs can be effective post-nasal drip cough treatments, but some also have a sedating effect, so be sure you know which type you’re taking and whether taking it at night might be better for productivity. 
  • Oral decongestants: The common active ingredient, pseudoephedrine, may be used along with antihistamines to control post-nasal drip, so be sure you know what’s in your decongestant, and whether it is contraindicated for any other medications you may be taking.
  • Nasal sprays. Intranasal steroid sprays and antihistamine nasal sprays can reduce cough and runny nose, but can also have side effects or make you drowsy.
  • Neti pots. When trying to figure out how to get rid of post-nasal drip, Neti pots are great home remedies—just remember to always use boiled or distilled water before irrigating your sinuses.
  • Elevating your head at night. Sleeping with a cough can be difficult and disruptive. Elevating your head with extra pillows can help keep drainage from backing up, and also help GERD-related issues from causing a chronic cough.

Although a cough lasting more than eight weeks is considered chronic, some people who haven’t gotten to the root cause of their cough may develop a chronic cough for years

Sinus infection treatment at Kaplan Sinus Relief

Post-nasal drip cough treatment can be short term as your sinus infection improves. But for chronic coughing caused by post-nasal drip, balloon sinuplasty can help provide relief. Kaplan Sinus Relief provides this minimally invasive balloon sinuplasty procedure, which takes less than 21 minutes and can offer long-term relief from chronic post-nasal drip and cough.

Balloon sinuplasty involves inserting a tiny balloon into the nasal cavity and inflating it partially, enlarging the nasal and sinus cavities to allow for proper drainage, relieving coughs caused by post-nasal drip.

To learn more about chronic cough relief, call 713-766-1818 or schedule an appointment today.

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