Sinus Infections

Does a Sinus Infection Cause a Sore Throat?

March 13, 2024

7 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

Does a sinus infection cause a sore throat? Yes, it certainly can. Sinus infections can often lead to complications with post-nasal drip — excess mucus draining down the back of your throat  —  which in turn can cause a sore throat or cough.

Sinus infections can also cause inflammation and swelling in the nasal passages and throat, leading to a sore throat. The drainage of mucus from the sinuses can also irritate the lining of your throat, causing it to become dry and scratchy.

Fortunately, there are several ways to relieve a sore throat due to sinusitis. We cover those treatments here, along with sinusitis basics, info about other sinusitis symptoms, and more. 

Can a sinus infection cause a sore throat?

Yes. Typically, your sinuses drain through your nose and your throat. The sinus drainage that goes down your throat is typically so thin and watery that you don’t even notice it. 

When you get sick, however, the system that regulates your draining sinuses may not function properly. For example, if you’re congested, your sinuses are no longer draining through your nose. And typically, the mucus created when you’re ill is thicker than usual. All of those forces converge so that more and thicker mucus than average is making its way down your throat.

As a result, post-nasal drip has its own set of symptoms including:

  • Sore, itchy throat
  • Frequent throat clearing, swallowing, or spitting
  • Bad breath and/or a foul smell in the nose and throat
  • Nausea from excess mucus draining into the stomach 
  • Cough, typically worse at night

If you’re not sick frequently, it may be difficult for you to tell the difference between a sore throat caused by post-nasal drip or, say, a sore throat from mold exposure. But if you are suffering from sinusitis, it’s a safe bet that your sore throat is likely caused by post-nasal drip.

What does a sinus drainage sore throat feel like?

A sinus drainage sore throat often presents with a constant and irritating sensation. It’s typically characterized by an itchy, scratchy sensation that can lead to frequent coughing or throat clearing in an attempt to relieve the discomfort. 

Unlike a sore throat caused by a viral infection, which can be acute and associated with other systemic symptoms like fever, a sinus drainage sore throat may persist as long as the sinus issues or bacterial sinus infection continue. Individuals might also experience a sense of fullness or pressure in their throat, exacerbating the discomfort. To mitigate these symptoms, staying hydrated and using saline nasal sprays can help in thinning the mucus for better drainage and relief.

How do you get rid of a sore throat from a sinus infection?

Can sinusitis go away on its own? In most cases yes, a normal sinus infection can go away on its own — but if it doesn’t clear up in about eight weeks, you may need to seek chronic sinusitis treatment.

There are a handful of recommended sore throat sinus infection treatment options for post-nasal drip and sore throat caused by a sinus infection. However, keep in mind that you will likely be better off treating the sinus infection itself as opposed to the symptom of a sore throat. 

Over-the-counter medication

OTC medication can help soothe the uncomfortable nature of that sore throat. Medications such as Tylenol and ibuprofen won’t necessarily stop your sore throat in its tracks, but they can help relieve the pressure and pain that comes with it. Numbing cough drops and sprays can also provide temporary relief.


While antihistamines and other allergen-fighting medications may not help your sore throat directly, they may provide relief from other symptoms associated with a sinus infection, especially if your allergies are making you congested, which can cause your infection to run amok.

Warm liquids and certain foods 

Warm liquids such as tea and coffee can greatly help soothe a sore throat. But it’s important to remember to limit your caffeine intake and to stay hydrated. If you are going to drink warm liquids, non-caffeinated tea with honey is a great option. Eating certain foods, including spicy foods, can also help break up your congestion, which may temporarily help reduce post-nasal drip. 

Aromatherapy, humidity, nasal sprays, and steam

The tried and true remedy of using a humidifier or a steamy shower can also help provide temporary relief from sinusitis symptoms such as sore throat. Essential oils such as peppermint or eucalyptus may also help to open up your sinuses and relieve some of the blockages that are indirectly causing your sore throat. Finally, flushing out your mucus with a neti pot or a saline nasal spray can also provide temporary relief. 


Prescribing antibiotics for a sore throat isn’t typical, but if your sore throat is caused by a sinus infection, professional treatment with antibiotics may be in order. Antibiotics may be the best medicine for sinus drainage in the throat as they will treat the underlying cause of the sinus infection itself.

What is sinusitis?

When it comes to sore throats, it can sometimes be difficult to tell if the sore throat is due to a sinus infection or the common cold. A sinus infection, also known as sinusitis, is most frequently caused by bacteria settling in your blocked sinuses, resulting in inflammation and pain. Sinusitis length becomes worrisome if the infection lasts for up to or more than eight weeks, which could result in a chronic sinusitis diagnosis. 

Chronic sinusitis symptoms

To deduce whether or not you have a sinus infection, look for the following sinusitis symptoms:

Keep in mind that the symptoms of sinusitis can be very similar to cold symptoms. However, sinusitis typically lasts longer than your average cold. In addition, untreated sinusitis symptoms can lead to further complications, with more extreme cases leading to a decreased sense of smell or even loss of vision. Because of this, it’s important to look for the aforementioned signs of sinusitis and seek treatment if necessary.

Is there a long-lasting chronic sinusitis treatment option?

When you are suffering from chronic sinus infections and aren’t seeing signs of a sinus infection getting better, chances are that you are also regularly dealing with a slew of sinusitis symptoms, including post-nasal drip and sore throat. And if your sinus infections haven’t responded to regular treatment, you may feel out of options. Fortunately, that’s not the case. 

Balloon sinuplasty is a minimally invasive new sinus treatment that helps restore proper drainage. During the procedure, your sinus doctor uses a tiny endoscopic balloon to widen your nasal passages and open up your blocked sinuses. The procedure takes less than 30 minutes, can be performed in-office, requires very little recovery time, and provides long-term relief. It is a wonderful alternative to traditional sinus surgery, which often necessitates the cutting of bone or tissue. 

Struggling with chronic post-nasal drip and sore throat caused by sinusitis? Contact Kaplan Sinus Relief today.

At the beginning of this article, we answered the question “Does a sinus infection cause a sore throat?” with an affirmative yes, it can. But what if you didn’t have a sinus infection in the first place? 

At Kaplan Sinus Relief, we help Houstonians find relief from acute and chronic sinusitis by offering balloon sinuplasty in Houston to our patients. Dr. Kaplan is a leader in spreading the balloon sinuplasty procedure across the nation; he has taught doctors across the country how to successfully perform balloon sinuplasty, helping to bring sinus relief to thousands of Americans. 

If you are struggling with acute or chronic sinus infections and the accompanying symptoms of post-nasal drip and sore throat, Kaplan Sinus Relief can help. To request an appointment, call us at (713) 766-1818 or contact us online today.

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