Exploring the Link Between Chronic Sinus Infection and Depression

A stuffy nose and a prolonged irritable cough can make anyone feel low. Swollen, itchy eyes, accompanied by a constant feeling of pressure at the center of the forehead, can amplify mental stress and wreck one’s mood. Needless to say, the resulting headache and difficulty in breathing may cause feelings of despair, resulting in troubles with daily activities.

A long-lasting sinus infection not only affects the tissues in teeth, face and jaw, causing excruciating pain, but also causes full-blown depression in an otherwise upbeat and energetic person. Similarly, depression may also aggravate sinus-related problems, making it worse over time. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 38 million Americans suffer from sinusitis-related problems, including chronic inflammation of the facial cavities, each year.

Connection between sinus health and mental health

Paranasal sinuses include four pairs of air-filled spaces surrounding the cheekbones, low-center of the forehead, eyes, and the bones behind the nose. Healthy and clear sinuses help drain the mucus that is accumulated during breathing. Allergies, medication, pollution and several other factors often block or clog the sinuses, causing inflammation and impairing their functioning.

A chronic inflammation may result in nasal congestion, pain around the facial cavities, ear fullness, sore throat, jaw aches and fatigue. Such symptoms may trigger depression or aggravate existing anxiety in multiple ways, some of which are:

  • Continued physical discomfort may take a toll on one’s well-being, creating additional stress, which could lead to depression.
  • People prone to allergies may experience worsening of their depressive symptoms, caused by inflammation-causing agents that are released during an allergy attack.
  • Chronic sinusitis patients are deprived of sound sleep, which can affect their mental health.

Once an individual is in the grip of depression, it can get difficult to manage sinus-related symptoms, rendering them incapable of performing day-to-day activities. Studies have established an association between depression, or anxiety, and chronic sinusitis.

It is generally observed that chronic sinusitis patients, who also suffer from depression, experience high degrees of sinus-related pain, as compared to those who aren’t depressed. Both chronic sinusitis and full-blown depression feed on each other and might end up aggravating the symptoms. In such cases, it is important to seek professional diagnosis and treatment to manage both the underlying conditions.

Natural remedies for sinusitis

Though sinus infection can produce chronic inflammation, there are ways to reduce the discomfort and prevent further problems. Here are some tips that can help keep your nasal passages moist and clear:

  • Hydrotherapy: Warm, moist compresses placed on the sinus areas can lessen the soreness and discomfort by boosting blood flow and easing the pressure in facial cavities.
  • Hot and cold therapy: Applying alternate hot and cold compresses on the facial cavities is beneficial to reduce congestion and open up clogged areas.
  • Natural aromatic medication: Oriental remedies, such as balms filled with aromatic extracts of menthol, eugenol, cineole, cinnamon, and camphor, when rubbed into the sinus area provides great relief.
  • Intake of water: Drinking large quantities of water at room temperature keeps the body hydrated and breaks down the thick mucus infecting the sinus cavities.

Way forward

When you’re battling constant inflammation or any sinus-related problem, it is not uncommon to develop some depression and anxiety as well. But a prolonged sinus infection may create a lot of stress, leading to depression-like symptoms.