What is the Connection Between Sinus Infection and Nausea?

Henry Gaudet
Henry Gaudet
Mucus can drain into the stomach with a sinus infection, causing nausea.
Mucus can drain into the stomach with a sinus infection, causing nausea.

Sinus infection and nausea might appear to be unrelated, but an infection can cause many symptoms, including nausea. Mucus draining from the sinuses is more likely to run down the back of the throat and into the stomach rather than through the nostrils. Excessive levels of mucus in the stomach can produce feelings of nausea.

Sinusitis, or a sinus infection, is an inflammation of the sinuses. As the membranes surrounding the sinuses swell, the sinuses are squeezed shut. Pressure from the swollen tissue and trapped mucus can cause a wide range of symptoms, including headache, post-nasal drip, fever and nausea.

Fever and nausea may accompany a sinus infection.
Fever and nausea may accompany a sinus infection.

Most often, sinusitis is caused by a respiratory infection or an allergic reaction. Any condition that causes inflammation of the sinus membranes can cause a sinus infection. When sinuses become swollen, mucus is unable to drain properly and becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Some people are naturally more prone to sinus infection and nausea than other people are. Allergy sufferers and asthmatics are likely to experience regular inflammations. Individuals who have growths such as nasal polyps have less space available for inflammation, and less swelling is needed to block the sinuses. A deviated septum of cleft palate might cause similar vulnerability to these symptoms. Swimmers are more vulnerable as well, as are frequent flyers who regularly experience changes in air pressure.

A sinus infection can also cause a headache and post-nasal drip, as well as nausea.
A sinus infection can also cause a headache and post-nasal drip, as well as nausea.

Many of the symptoms of a sinus infection are quite general, and what appear to be a sinus infection with nausea might be another condition or conditions. Tension and anxiety, for instance, can result in an upset stomach and headache. Migraine headaches can be intense and might cause nausea as well. Chronic sinusitis, which involves regular or prolonged inflammation, is especially difficult to diagnose and might require imaging tests to confirm.

Some people are naturally more prone to sinus infection and nausea than others.
Some people are naturally more prone to sinus infection and nausea than others.

After a sinus infection has been diagnosed, treating them usually will require a visit to the doctor. The body does have a natural ability to fight infection, but if the infection is severe enough to cause nausea, consultation with a medical professional is recommended. Depending on the symptoms and severity, medical treatments are likely to include a combination of antibiotics, antihistamines, decongestants and corticosteroids. Cases of chronic sinus infection caused by bone spurs or polyps might require surgery.

Treating a sinus infection typically requires a trip to the doctor.
Treating a sinus infection typically requires a trip to the doctor.

For those more vulnerable to sinus infections, steps can be taken to limit the risk. Smoking not only irritates the sinus membrane but reduces the body’s ability to fight infection. When possible, known allergens should be avoided. Humidifiers might be useful, and inhaling steam a few times each day can help keep swelling down as well.

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Discussion Comments

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anon996401

The article and comments are very helpful. I've never really suffered from congestion and when I started to, I never went through nausea but today, I am. This is new to me and I just want some relief because I don't feel like eating due to my nausea.

serenesurface

@fify-- I think the cause of the nausea is sinus drainage. I have it too. When my doctor drains out my sinuses, I feel much better. I also eat a lot of dry crackers when I have nausea from sinusitis.

ysmina

@fify-- Yes, that is very much possible. Sinus infections cause congestion and a change in air pressure. As far as I know, our throat, nose, ears and sinuses are all connected via passageways. So when there is an infection in one, the others will also get affected.

You're also absolutely right about change in inner ear pressure causing nausea. This is probably why you are having this symptom. You should see a doctor to have your sinuses treated.

I always take an over-the-counter medication for congestion when I have sinus dizziness and nausea. It helps.

fify

I know that vertigo can cause nausea and vertigo is related to the air pressure inside the ears. Is it possible for a sinus infection to cause change in ear pressure and lead to nausea?

I'm not sure if I have a sinus infection, but my sinuses have been very congested all week. I have sinus pressure, a constant headache, lightheadedness and nausea that comes and goes.

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    • Mucus can drain into the stomach with a sinus infection, causing nausea.
      By: Adam Gregor
      Mucus can drain into the stomach with a sinus infection, causing nausea.
    • Fever and nausea may accompany a sinus infection.
      By: evgenyatamanenko
      Fever and nausea may accompany a sinus infection.
    • A sinus infection can also cause a headache and post-nasal drip, as well as nausea.
      By: bsilvia
      A sinus infection can also cause a headache and post-nasal drip, as well as nausea.
    • Some people are naturally more prone to sinus infection and nausea than others.
      By: bruno135_406
      Some people are naturally more prone to sinus infection and nausea than others.
    • Treating a sinus infection typically requires a trip to the doctor.
      By: Junial Enterprises
      Treating a sinus infection typically requires a trip to the doctor.
    • Inhaling steam a few times a day may help ease the symptoms of a sinus infection.
      By: drubig-photo
      Inhaling steam a few times a day may help ease the symptoms of a sinus infection.
    • Sinus pain may be caused by allergies.
      By: bsites
      Sinus pain may be caused by allergies.
    • A persistent sinus infection may cause migraines, which in turn can trigger nausea.
      By: MediablitzImages
      A persistent sinus infection may cause migraines, which in turn can trigger nausea.