What Causes Winter Sinus Problems?

December 3, 2021

5 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

What is causing my winter sinus problems? When the winter season starts peeking around the corner, and you know that the holidays are near, you may start getting excited to hang holiday decorations or make plans with loved ones. But for some of us, the cold weather can be coupled with sinus issues, including cold weather sinus pain.

Texans know that our weather can turn on a dime, and they like to be prepared. Because as much as we enjoy the occasional break from the heat, winter sinus problems, including chronic sinusitis, can sometimes make the holiday season feel not as cheerful.

As we enter this period of frequent weather transitions, take a moment to learn what causes sinus problems in winter. Doing so can help you get through this winter season with fewer tissues and bottles of nasal spray.

Winter sinus problems: Is cold weather the culprit?

Because it’s common knowledge that we’re more likely to get sick in the winter, many people assume that the cold weather is what causes our winter sinus problems. However, cold weather itself does not make you sick. The real culprit for sinus problems in the winter is germs, more specifically the viruses that make us ill (such as the cold and flu viruses).

What the cold weather can do is help foster the environmental conditions these viruses need to thrive. Here are some of the ways this happens:

  • Dry air: According to the NIH, the flu virus travels easier through the dry outdoor air (created by the cold) and the dry indoor air (created by heating).
  • Central heating systems: Once it starts to get cold, we immediately want to jumpstart our heaters which can create central heating sinus problems. Heaters can also irritate our noses by drying out our sinuses and making it easier to get a sinus infection or they can worsen the symptoms if you already have chronic sinusitis.
  • Longer survival time: When it’s at or around freezing, cold weather can harden the flu virus’ outer coating, allowing it to survive longer before being transmitted.
  • Staying inside: Cold weather drives people to spend more time indoors for longer periods of time. Though it’ll get you away from the cold air, you are more likely to share germs inside with other individuals, making you more susceptible to illnesses.
  • Slowed immune system: Cold weather can slow down your immune system. If you suffer from colds on a regular basis, it could be what causes your recurrent sinus infections or chronic sinusitis.

To summarize, cold weather is not the main cause of your winter sinus problems, but it can make it much easier for you to catch a virus. However, cold weather can have other effects on your body.

For example, if you’re wondering, “Can cold weather cause sore throat?” In a way, yes. Cold air can dry out the throat and cause severe irritation. If you are breathing through your mouth because your nose is stuffy/runny from the cold, this can increase your chances of getting a sore throat. However, unlike an infection, a sore throat irritated from the cold can be quickly fixed.

Keep reading: Can a sinus infection cause a sore throat?

How can I help my sinuses in the winter?

Now that you know what causes sinus problems in winter, it’s time to do something about it. Many people struggle with more than one of these causes for months at a time and wind up having annual bouts of chronic sinusitis.

If in the winter you can’t breathe through your nose at night or struggle with chronic nasal congestion, here are some tips and tricks from the sinus experts at Kaplan Sinus Relief to help you learn how to relieve sinus pain once the cold weather hits.

  • Monitor your air quality: Dry air can be a large cause of sinus issues in the winter. Once you learn how the air quality is affecting your sinuses, there are certain things you can do to adjust your environment. Using a humidifier and replacing your air filter often can help reduce sinus irritation.
  • Use fragrances in moderation: We understand that the holidays call for filling your home with yummy scented candles. However, overused fragrances such as candles and air fresheners can actually irritate the sinuses. So be sure to light your pine and gingerbread candles in moderation this winter.
  • See an ENT: If your sinus problems seem to be an issue year-round, it may be time to see a specialist. Issues including allergies, nasal congestion, and chronic sinusitis may not go away on their own. Temporary fixes like nasal sprays are just that, temporary. Seeing a specialist can help you figure out a plan to find long-term relief.

Kaplan Sinus Relief can help you relieve your winter sinus problems

Struggling with winter sinus problems is normal, but it doesn’t have to take over your holiday season. Though you can turn to temporary solutions including nasal sprays or over-the-counter medications, they will not help you in the long haul. Dr. Kaplan of Kaplan Sinus Relief is the top provider of the balloon sinuplasty procedure, a non-invasive procedure that provides long-term sinus relief.

If you’re ready to spend this winter with family and friends (and not held up with sinus problems), consider visiting Kaplan Sinus Relief to discuss your sinus relief options. Request an appointment online today to see how Dr. Kaplan can help you.

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