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What is the Connection Between Sinus Infection and Bronchitis?

By Jacob Queen
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

The main connection between sinus infection and bronchitis is that one can lead to another. To be more specific, a sinus infection has the potential to cause bronchitis. Another way that sinus infection and bronchitis can be connected is that they often occur simultaneously. This generally happens because sinus infections and bronchitis have some of the same potential causes, so when a person develops one, he has a greater chance of developing the other. Treatments for both conditions are usually very similar as well.

Sinus infections are often developed because of different kinds of allergies. This is also very often true with bronchitis. Many allergies can cause the body to produce an overabundance of mucus, and this mucus can potentially pool up in certain areas of the body. When this happens in the lungs or in the sinuses, bacterial infections can develop, and these can ultimately cause sinus infection and bronchitis to emerge at the same time.

The other connection between bronchitis and sinus infection comes from a sinus infection symptom called post-nasal drip. This causes mucus to run down the back of the throat constantly. A lot of this mucus can make its way into a person’s lungs, and the mucus from a sinus infection is generally full of bacteria. When it reaches the lungs, it can often spread the infection into that area, leading to bronchitis.

When people get a sinus infection or a case of bronchitis, doctors will usually use various antibiotics to treat them. These drugs are considered effective in helping the immune system fight off bacteria, which are responsible for most cases of bronchitis, as well as most sinus infections. Some sinus infections are caused by fungal contamination, and these require specialized medications.

The symptoms of sinus infection include facial pain, headaches around the eyes, and pain in the area of the teeth. The symptoms of bronchitis include coughing and wheezing along with fevers. Both illnesses are primarily caused by inflammation.

In the case of sinus infection, the inflammation is happening in the lining of a person's sinuses, and in the case of bronchitis, the inflammation is happening inside the lungs, in the area of a person's bronchial tubes. Both illnesses are usually easy to treat, but bronchitis can be potentially dangerous for young children and the elderly. Anybody who already has some kind of severe lung difficulty is also at risk for serious sickness.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon1000960 — On Feb 07, 2019

For the first time I've gotten a sinus infection that went into my lungs causing bronchitis. This is the worst I've felt in my 55 years! I did get a zpack, am taking OTC aids and will get a RX for cough. I can no longer sleep lying flat without fits of coughing, and my stomach and back muscles ache from coughing and blowing my nose. This is horrible. I'm sure I got this because a work colleague came in while she was sick. if you're sick, saty home! Don't give the rest of us your bacteria!

By liketobefit — On Jan 14, 2013

I like to be fit, but find since I became, I hate to use the over-used term 'allergic' to dairy (suddenly about 20 years ago), I do experience mucous-causing problems which are like post-nasal drip. It feels and sounds disgusting and it is hard to sleep with.

For long periods, I gave up dairy, and if I have dairy, I minimize the portion and avoid the rich choices. I was born in the UK, but lived in Australia for 40-plus years (I'm now 57) - and sunny weather does help.

I'm now living in France in the North and I've never suffered so many serious flu symptoms, then two or three days' reprieve and straight into bronchitis. It's a killer. I try not to go for the antibiotics too quickly, but that is a mistake too.

After a three-week bout of coughing and trying to expel mucous, I then suffer with exhaustion and need naps and that drives me mad. Does anyone else think that dairy could be a cause for sinus infection? Cheers and good health.

By lighth0se33 — On Jan 04, 2012

It is really important for elderly people to get prompt treatment for sinus infections. My grandmother refused to go to a doctor, because she thought it would go away on its own. Instead, it progressed to bronchitis.

She still would not seek treatment. She wound up with pneumonia and a huge hospital bill. Her doctor said that the bacteria that caused the original infection had multiplied and spread to her lungs.

Since her immune system was already weak because of her long battle with the infection and her age, the situation just kept getting worse. Thankfully, she lived, but she probably would not have if she had not finally gone to the hospital.

By wavy58 — On Jan 04, 2012

@orangey03 – I have been taking medication that keeps my allergies under control, but I still got a bad case of bronchitis last winter. After a month-long sinus infection, I got so sick that I considered going to the emergency room.

When I would lie down at night to try and get some sleep, the cough would get worse. It got so bad that every time I took a breath and went to exhale, my breath would sputter out into a cough, which turned into a fit of coughing.

I wound up just taking some medicine to knock me out and propping my head up on extra pillows. The next morning, I was very motivated to go to my doctor for help. I could not stand another night like the one before.

By orangey03 — On Jan 03, 2012

@Oceana – Bronchitis can make you feel like you are dying. I have suffered from allergies my whole life, so I have had my share of sinus infections, along with bronchitis, at times. There is nothing more suffocating.

Even after you start getting well, you keep some mucus in your lungs for months, or longer. I still have to cough up mucus for about an hour every morning, and I haven't had bronchitis in over a year. After I get over my initial coughing spell early in the morning, it's gone for the day, though.

Has anyone else ever felt that you were surely about to die from bronchitis? I just wonder if mine was worse because of my severe allergies.

By Oceana — On Jan 02, 2012

This is why if you get a sinus infection, you need to get antibiotics to make it go away. I have had more than one stubborn infection turn into bronchitis, and now that I've learned the hard way, I always get treatment before the infection has a chance to go down into my chest.

Once you get bronchitis, you will be stuck with it for a long time. I have tried to wait it out before, but the coughing eventually gets so bad that I can't breathe much at all. My stomach starts to hurt because my abdominal muscles tense up every time I cough, and I keep them busy constantly when I have bronchitis.

The best thing to do, even if you have waited too long, is to see a doctor and get some antibiotics. Though it may seem like the drugs aren't working for the first couple of days, you will see improvement within a week.

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