Sinus Infections, Sinusitus

Uncommon Causes Of Sinus Infections

September 6, 2016

4 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

Sinus infections are typically caused by bacterial or viral infections. There are other, less common causes of sinus infections, such as dry eyes, that develop in conjunction with other medical conditions.This often leads to further questions, such as, “Can a sinus infection cause dry mouth?” With certain preexisting health conditions, sinus infection causes can become complicated. For example, diabetes and sinus infections can be linked if conditions are not well managed.

Diabetes and Sinus Infections

Did you know that diabetes and sinus infections can be related? High blood glucose levels from diabetes can also make you more susceptible to developing sinus infections. Some people, especially those who poorly manage their disease, can have higher risks of developing infections, including those of the skin, oral cavity, and sinuses.

However, the right mixture of treatment and control can lower the potential for diabetes and sinus infections occurring together. Maintaining tight control over your blood sugar levels will help mitigate this risk, while helping to reduce the risk for diabetes-related complications, such as renal failure, heart attack, and stroke.

Diabetics may be at a higher risk for developing yeast infections, such as oral candida, which can also spread to your nasal cavity, leading to a fungal sinus infection.

Candidiasis favors warm, moist environments such as the mouth and throat.  Because diabetes can cause high concentrations of glucose to accumulate in your mouth, fungi and yeast microorganisms flourish because they thrive on sugar. Once you have good control over your diabetes, your risk for oral yeast infections will decrease, as will your risk for sinus infections.

Another way diabetics are more susceptible to sinus infections is that diabetes can suppress the immune system, raising the risk for opportunistic infections.

Autoimmune Disorders: Sinus Infections and Dry Eyes

Autoimmune disorders can present complex difficulties outside of core disease areas. For example, sinus infections can stem from dry eyes that are the result of dry mouth and an autoimmune disorder. Consider Sjögren’s syndrome, can cause damage to the salivary glands. When this happens, salivary flow to the mouth is diminished, leading to dry mouth.

Saliva is needed to wash away oral bacteria, and when salivary flow is inhibited, microorganisms can build up in the mouth, leading to an infection that can spread to the sinuses.

In addition to salivary gland dysfunction, Sjögren’s syndrome also causes extremely dry eyes because it not only affects your tear glands, but it also diminishes the amount and quality of tears you produce.

Many people believe that tears are solely comprised of water and saline. Tears, however, contain a rich network of nutrients and lubricants to help keep your eyes moisturized and healthy.

Extremely dry eyes can also heighten your risk for infection, which can spread to your nasal cavity, subsequently causing a sinus infection.

If you have an autoimmune disorder that causes a dry mouth and dry eyes, your doctor may recommend that you use an enzymatic mouthwash or an artificial saliva preparation, so that moisture is restored to your oral cavity.

Your doctor may also prescribe lubricating eye drops to help prevent excessive dryness.

The Bottom Line on Chronic Sinus Infections

While it is common to get an occasional sinus infection, frequent or chronic sinus infections could be related to a preexisting medical condition.

If you get repeated episodes of sinusitis, see your doctor, who will evaluate your symptoms and medical history and recommend diagnostic testing to determine the cause. Whether you need a balloon sinuplasty, or more information about acute and chronic sinusitis, book an appointment now to start your path to sinus relief.


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