Sinus Infections

Sinus Infection Odor: Why it Happens

June 8, 2023

5 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

When people talk about sinus infection odor — specifically, bad smells that emanate from your nose — they cite it as being one of the most unpleasant parts of having a sinus infection. And because most people describe the sinus infection smell as being “rotten,” you can probably make an educated guess as to why that is. 

The most common cause of smelly sinus infections is bacterial growth and buildup in the nose. When this happens, it can produce a strong odor that smells like something has gone bad.

So, what can you do to get rid of that sinus infection odor? In this article, we’ll discuss the causes of bad-smelling sinuses and advise on how to address them.

Why does my snot smell?

The primary cause of the smell associated with a sinus infection is the release of bacteria and mucus from infected sinuses. Sinuses become infected when small particles such as dust, pollen, or animal dander enter the nasal passages and become trapped. This can cause inflammation, which leads to a buildup of mucus and bacteria in the sinuses. As the bacteria and mucus accumulate, they produce a foul odor that can smell like rotten eggs.

Finding yourself wondering, “Why do my sinuses smell bad?” Outside of your common, viral sinus infection, here are some potential causes of smelly snot:

Bacterial sinus infection

If you’re experiencing nausea from sinus drainage and green or yellow mucus accompanied by a foul odor when you blow your nose, chances are you are suffering from a bacterial sinus infection. This type of infection is caused by a range of bacteria, including Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Moraxella catarrhalis.

Nasal polyps

Clear sinus drainage can be a sign of fluid buildup in nasal polyps that are known to cause bad smells or mucus build-up in the back of your throat during postnasal drip. Nasal polyps are small growths that form on the walls of your nasal passages and can be caused by allergies, infections, or other irritants.


Allergies can also cause bad sinus infection odor. When your body comes into contact with an allergen, such as dust or pollen, it triggers the release of histamines which can cause inflammation and congestion in the nasal passages. This can lead to a buildup of mucus and bacteria, resulting in a foul smell and a sinus infection. 

Postnasal drip

Postnasal drip occurs when mucus from the sinuses drains down the back of your throat. This can cause a bad smell and taste in your mouth, as well as an itchy feeling in your throat. In some cases, postnasal drip can also result in coughing or sore throats. 

How do I get rid of nasal sinus infection smell?

The best treatment option for bad smells associated with a sinus infection will depend on the underlying cause of the infection. As such, your first line of defense should be to seek sinus infection smell treatment. 

Without proper treatment, your nose may be haunted by foul sinus infection odor for a while, making daily life difficult. Do not try to wait out your sinus infection. If left untreated, sinus infections can cause serious complications, such as facial pain and vision disruption, and you risk having the infection spread to other parts of your body. 

Continue reading: How long do sinus infections last?

Sinus infection odor treatment at home

At-home treatment options could include taking medications to help reduce inflammation, as well as using a nasal rinse (saline) to clear out the sinuses. Over-the-counter decongestants and pain relievers may also help to reduce sinus infection odor. Additionally, using a neti pot or nasal spray can help clear out the congested mucus that is causing the smell in the first place.

Chronic sinus infection treatment

For those who are dealing with chronic sinus infections that won’t seem to go away, it may be best to seek help from a sinus specialist who offers balloon sinuplasty in Houston. 

While medications and typical sinus surgeries and procedures can give you temporary relief, balloon sinuplasty is a great long-term solution. This innovative in-office procedure only takes about 20 minutes, is minimally invasive, virtually painless, and delivers lasting relief from sinus infection symptoms — including nasty sinus infection odor.

Kaplan Sinus Relief can help you say “smell you later” to sinus infection odor

Horrible sinus infection odor can be a thing of the past with treatment from Kaplan Sinus Relief. Kaplan Sinus Relief provides long-lasting sinus relief from sinus infections with the most innovative and effective form of balloon sinuplasty Houston has to offer. 

In fact, Dr. Kaplan himself is the pioneer of balloon sinuplasty here in Houston and runs, currently, the only private practice in the nation using TGS navigation, the state-of-the-art technology that uses augmented reality to make procedures — including balloon sinuplasty — safer and more accurate. He also offers IV sedation for his patients for those who want it during their procedure.

Don’t let your sinus infection and sinus infection odors fester and become an untreated sinus infection. Join the thousands of patients in Houston that Dr. Kaplan and the staff at Kaplan Sinus Relief have helped to breathe easier again.

To learn more about the balloon sinuplasty recovery experience, call our offices at (713) 766-1818 or schedule an appointment online today.

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This article has been reviewed and approved by Michael Kaplan, MD


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