Can Poor Air Quality Cause Sinus Issues?

In this blog post, we will discuss “Can Poor Air Quality Cause Sinus Issues?” Firstly, the article will address air pollution. Then, the report will define the meaning of the sinus and its function in your body. In addition, the paper will also outline the relationship between poor air quality and sinus. In the end, the report will also provide you with solutions to minimize air pollution.

Can Poor Air Quality Cause Sinus Issues?

Yes, poor air quality creates sinus issues. The symptoms of sinus problems are as follows:

  • Headache
  • Nasal Inflammation
  • Blocked Nose
  • Swelling and pain in cheeks, forehead, nose and eyes
  • Reduced sense of smell and taste
  • Fatigue

Let’s first move ahead to explore more about air pollution

What is air pollution?

The introduction of harmful agents into the atmosphere is known as air pollution. The toxic agents are known as pollutants. These pollutants are derived from natural and human activities, and they can be chemical or biological.

Major pollutants present in the air are particulate matter (PM), ground-level ozone (O3), NO2, SO2, and CO. Air also has lead, allergens, bacteria, viruses and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Besides climate change, air pollution has become a significant environmental risk to human health. 

Therefore, striving towards minimising air pollution can also help to improve climate change mitigation efforts. In addition, reducing emissions will enhance the quality of air.

What is indoor and outdoor pollution?

Air pollution in the outside environment is called ambient pollution or outdoor pollution. Some of the examples are the transportation sector, energy generation, industries, dust storms, etc. Air pollution created inside any closed structure is called indoor pollution or household pollution. Cooking activities, cleaning and dusting of house, use of scents and perfumes, etc., are examples of indoor air pollution.

What are the health effects of air pollution?

Environmental studies have proved that PM2.5 and PM10 have caused relevant harm to public health. Both pollutants can deeply penetrate inside your lungs. PM2.5 can enter your bloodstream, which results in various respiratory and cardiovascular ailments. It can also affect other organs. WHO has declared these two pollutants as carcinogenic elements.

The detailed adverse effects on human health are as follows:

  • Respiratory ailments: COPD, asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough, common cold and cough, throat infection, lung cancer, chest congestion, sinus congestion, etc. 
  • Cardiovascular diseases: Heart attack, cardiac arrest, chest pain, heart blockage, stroke, etc. 
  • Mental disorders: Anxiety, insomnia, depression, low productivity, irritation, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, brain stroke, paralysis, etc.

The other effects of air pollution are low sperm counts, low reproductive ability, infertility and congenital infant disabilities.

Now let’s dive in to see the details about the sinus issues.

What is the sinus, and where it is situated?

The sinuses are a connected system of hollow cavities in your skull. There is a total of four sinuses present, out of which the maxillary sinuses are the largest. Your cheekbones hold your maxillary sinuses. Frontal sinuses are located at your low-centre of the forehead. In addition to it, your eyes are your ethmoid sinuses. In bones, behind your nose, sphenoid sinuses are situated.

All these bunches of sinuses have soft and pink tissue lining, which is called the mucosa. Except for a thin layer of mucosa, generally, the sinuses are all vacant. The sinus system is considered to be a part of the upper respiratory system.

Why do we have sinuses?

Experts are still finding the multiple functions of sinuses in deep. However, the primary purpose of the sinuses is to produce mucus that moisturizes the inside of the nose. This mucus layer protects you from all sorts of pollutants, micro-organisms, dust and dirt. These cavities also aid to humidify the air you inhale. These sinuses also lighten the skull and boost your voice.

Now that we learned about the sinus and its purposes, let’s know more about the link between air pollution and the sinus.

How air pollution affects sinuses?

New environmental research suggests that air pollution can damage your upper respiratory system. Particulate pollution could initiate chronic rhinosinusitis or sinus issues. It is a condition in which sinuses get infected. This infection leads to swelling and pain of the eyes, forehead, neck and cheeks. In addition, you might have to experience a stuffy nose. It is because of the severe congestion in the nose due to sinus issues. You also might get mucus into your throat for up to or more than 12 weeks.

Dr Murugappan Ramanathan, a rhinologist and associate professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgeon at Johns Hopkin University School of Medicine in Baltimore, explained the link between air pollution and sinus problems in detail. He explained that short-term exposure to air pollution could lead to sinusitis. However, prolonged exposure to air pollution can develop chronic rhinosinusitis.

According to his study, the main culprit for your congested nose was elevated levels of PM2.5 concentrations. PM2.5 is a particulate matter or airborne pollutants having a size under 2.5 micrometres. This means that these particles are 30 times smaller than the diameter of your hair. These particles consist of dust, dirt, soot, smoke, organic compounds and metals.

The new investigations published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Molecular Biology further revealed that urban residents are contracting sinus conditions because of the industries and urbanization.

Ramanathan and his team used 38 mice to investigate the connection between polluted air and sinusitis profoundly. In addition, their study aimed to study the influence of pollution exposure on the biology of the upper airways.  

The team kept nineteen mice in contact with filtered air, and others remained in contact with polluted air for 6 hours per 5 days. They conducted the procedure for 16 weeks. The quality of polluted air was equal to concentrated Baltimore air. This dirty air excluded most allergens such as dust and pollen.

Later on, the team of researchers led by Murugappan Ramanathan flushed the noses and sinuses of the mice with water. The flushed fluid was then observed under a microscope. The researchers noted that fluid removed from the mice breathing poor air quality white blood cells were present along with the mucus. The presence of white blood cells represented inflammation in their sinuses.

Further, these researchers also examined the layers of cells along the nasal passages and sinuses under the microscope. They inferred that the epithelium layer was 30 to 40% thicker in mice that breathed poor air quality than those that inhaled filtered air. Thus, it was concluded that sinus issues caused thicker epithelium.

Ramanathan and his team finally explained that inhaling polluted air directly causes an interruption in the integrity of the sinus and nasal air passages in mice. They further advised that keeping his barrier intact is necessary to protect the cells in the tissues from irritation or infection from other alien sources, which includes allergens, pollens or germs.  

Coming to the statistical facts, the report of John Hopkins University has further revealed that the sinusitis condition affects more than 29 million individuals in the States. Also, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 12 per cent of adults have a chronic sinusitis diagnosis.

Much medical evidence has observed that sinusitis causes various effects such as congestion, pain, swelling and pressure in the face and stuff drippy nose. They also further revealed that these effects could cause significant social consequences such as depression, chronic fatigue and loss of productivity.

But don’t worry, you can be saved from all these troubles. Follow the next section to find out the solution.

What can I do to protect myself from air pollution?

I will elaborate on some of the measures to protect yourself from air pollution.

Personal Hygiene

You can also fight the effects of air pollution by maintaining personal hygiene:

  • You can cut your nails short to avoid the accumulation of dirt. 
  • You can also practice mouth gargling after coming home to free your mouth from unwanted guests.
  • You can also brush twice a day to keep airborne infections at bay.
  • You can also take steam therapy at home to cleanse your lungs.

Quit Smoking

Smoking cigarettes, hookahs (shisha), electric vape or any other types of cigars are not at all suitable for your health. It’s best to stop smoking. Active and passive smoking provides the direct entry of harmful pollutants into your body. This causes the risk to your respiration and other organs dependent on it. 

Physical Exercise 

Physical activities have many benefits to your body. It not only improves your stamina and immunity levels but also helps to increase your lung capacity. Yoga, sanas, swimming, running, cycling, brisk walking and dancing are some of the best forms of exercise to improve your health.

Breathing Exercise 

The majority of people in the world don’t breathe properly. However, correct breathing techniques can keep illnesses due to air pollution at bay. A pranayama is a form of yoga asana which helps to improve breathing methods and lung functionality.

Some of the pranayama types that help you fight air pollution are Kapalbhati, Anulom Vilom, Chandra Nadi, Surya Nadi and Bhastrika. It is strongly recommended to learn this art of breath from a well-certified yoga trainer. 

You can also increase your lung muscles by simply taking a deep breath and holding it for a count of 10. Then, slowly breathe out the air. If you can keep your breath for a longer time, then you have good lungs health.

Good diet 

Always go for a well-balanced diet to remain fit and strong. Consistent eating of junk and fast food will increase the risk of obesity and other diseases. In addition, such people are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of air pollution. Instead, add more fresh veggies and fruits to your diet. Also, you can consume less meat to minimise carbon footprints.

You can also add anti-inflammatory foods as these types of food help to cleanse your lungs effectively. Anti-inflammatory foods which I recommend are: 

Immunity booster drinks

You can do your immunity booster drinks by using readily available items in your kitchen. Immunity booster drinks help to cleanse your lungs. Some of the DIY immunity booster drinks are as follows:

  • Take a glass of warm white milk. Add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder to it. Also, add two strands of saffron to it. Drink it at night before sleeping. You will get good sleep, and you will be relieved from chest congestion. 
  • Boil water by adding half cinnamon stick. Drink the spice-infused water once a day. Your sinuses would be cleared up. 
  • Buy an excellent green tea. Prepare a green tea by following the packet instructions. Have it whenever you feel irritation in your throat. 
  • Take some crushed 1 or 2 peppercorns, a half-inch of a blade of lemongrass and 1 inch of grated ginger and half a teaspoon of turmeric powder. Add everything in one glass of boiling water and reduce it to half a glass. Drink two tablespoons of this spice-infused warm water every after three hours. Adding honey is optional. 
  • You can also drink warm water and add honey if you want. Honey helps to relieve throat irritation.

Use Mask

Mask can prevent you from inhaling the polluted air. You would be able to work in contaminated areas without any fear of allergy infections and stress. 

Masks I recommend

Name Why I recommend it
BASE CAMP CROSSDUST MASKEAPI Filter Technology & Advanced NanotechnologyUser FriendlyMore Durable Six layers face maskFilter materials of the dust mask: Double-Layer Melt-blown with Electrostatic Adsorption Performance, Activated carbon, Non-woven Polypropylene
NIOSH approved N95 maskFour layers mask Flexible nose pad, dual strapsDisposable maskEasy to breathe
BASE CAMP Reusable Cloth Face MaskThree layers mask; 100% cotton Skin-friendly and breathablePocket to add additional filterReusable Mask

How can I individually reduce air pollution?

You can always try your level best to minimise air pollution. The following are the methods to reduce air pollution at an individual level.

Plant Trees

Encourage tree plantation drives amongst the communities. You can be a green saviour of your region. Trees are the natural air purifiers of the environment, and it supplies us with clean air.

Municipal councils or the local authorities can develop urban forests to increase the green cover of the locality. They can also plan to create vertical green walls to improve oxygen levels of the region naturally. But don’t forget to plant only indigenous trees. 

Human/ religious celebrations in eco-friendly ways 

Nowadays, many couples celebrate gender (of their baby) revealing parties by bursting firecrackers. But, unfortunately, these firecrackers can transform into massive wildfires if they are burst near trees.

Thus, you can celebrate such celebrations by planting trees in your nearby barren land. Bursting firecrackers on any religious, festive or personal occasion are only going to harm your loved ones. 

You can also celebrate Christmas by not cutting Christmas Trees. Instead, you can buy artificial ones and use them in the coming years too.

Discourage Plastic

Single-use plastic has been one of the major concerns in the environment. Plastic pollution indirectly contributes to the degradation of air quality. Plastic, when burned, releases various toxic gases such as dioxins into the air.

Encourage alternative use of the plastic product. For example, you can wear a cloth bag for shopping. You can also carry your travel cutlery set to a restaurant. Additionally, you can take your water bottle instead of purchasing a packaged drinking water bottle every time.

Use of public transportation 

Increase the use of public transport to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion. You can also try carpooling or the cab sharing option. Then, you can also use bicycles instead of scooters. Lastly, you can always opt for walking a shorter distance. 

Alternative use of fossil fuel

It would be best to try switching to other fuel alternatives. For example, don’t use wood for the fireplace. Instead, you can wear multiple layers of clothes for warmth. In this way, you can conserve energy. Additionally, you can also install solar panels on house roofs to convert solar energy into electricity. 

You can also buy electric and hybrid vehicles to minimise tailpipe emissions. Finally, propose or discuss a plan with your mayor or any relevant local authority to promote your region’s renewable energy sector.

Reduction of personal carbon footprints

You can also keep a check on your carbon footprints. For example, you can delete unwanted photos, videos or emails from clouds and email boxes as and when possible. Unfortunately, this unwanted stuff takes a lot of energy, which indirectly contributes to air pollution.

You can also switch off the lights and electrical appliances of the vacant rooms. Try buying local products instead of imported ones. Be vocal about them. You can also discover your own country rather than travelling to different ones.

Create Awareness

Air pollution is unpredictable; air pollution in your vicinity can affect people living in Asia and vice-a-versa. However, you can create public awareness about air pollution amongst your community by teaching and interacting with your kids about the importance of good air. 

Educate youth by telling them the ill effects of poor air quality. Then, let your country’s future know that they deserve a better place to live!

How can the local authorities improve the air quality of your region?

You can always observe the changes happening in your surrounding nature. If you experience bad air quality or any activities producing air pollution, you can always concern relevant local authorities or the mayor.

Here are some methods which local authorities can do.

Proper disposal of waste 

Improper solid waste management of an area is an invitation to many diseases and infections. In addition, burning solid waste in public can cause air pollution, although such practices are rare in the US. 

The wastes are mainly disposed of in the engineered landfills and recycled before final disposal to landfills and waste incinerators. 

In addition, waste incinerators help to convert waste into energy.

However, many researchers have claimed that gasification technology or waste-to-energy technology may release harmful gaseous contaminants. Thus, it is necessary that waste collectors rigorously segregate the waste before sending it to waste incinerators. 

The best solution is to minimise waste at a personal level. Statistically, 70% of the waste generated can be recycled effectively. Thus, strive to recycle your waste at a personal level as much as possible.

Reducing air pollution from agriculture

Stubble burning is still practised in some parts of the US. This event contributes to the degradation of air. Local authorities can help farmers convert this waste into cattle fodder or be transformed into pellets as fuel. In addition, farmers should stop the usage of harmful pesticides or fertilisers to decrease air pollution.

How can I reduce indoor air pollution?

Maintaining household or indoor hygiene

You can decrease poor air quality by adequately maintaining indoor hygiene. For example, you can frequently clean your cupboards and open decks to avoid an accumulation of dust particles. You can then vacuum your carpets and sofas at least twice a week. 

Make sure your doggies and cats are well-groomed. Use chimneys and exhaust fans in kitchens. You can also install an exhaust fan in washrooms. Always make sure you are keeping your house well ventilated. 

Keep doors and windows open when possible. Maintain the health of electric appliances such as heaters, humidifiers, AC, fans, air ducts and so on at regular intervals of the year. Avoid overuse of strong perfumes or strong scented candles indoors. You can additionally use indoor plants to make your indoors more lively and fresh.

Indoor plants

Indoor plants do the same work as outdoor ones- they help to purify indoor air naturally. These indoor plants are also easy to maintain.

The indoor plants which I recommend are as follows: 

Air purifiers

Air purifiers help to improve indoor air quality. The risk of getting air pollution-related diseases decreases due to the use of air purifiers. Air purifiers having good HEPA filters do an adequate job of filtering pollutants.

Air Purifiers I recommend are as follows:

NameWhy I recommend it
Blueair Pro XL Air Purifier99.7% of airborne pollutants such as mould, allergens, smoke particles and pollens are captured. 
AIRMEGA 400SReduction of 99.97% of particulates of 0.3 microns. Also responsible for reducing more than 99% of VOCs, NH3 and CH3CHO.Washable and permanent pre-filters are available 
Blueair Pure 121Includes 3-part filtration system. Captures 99% of common airborne PM 2.5 pollutants such as allergens, odours, smoke, mould spores, dust mites and pet dander.An activated carbon filter removes common odours caused by smoke, pets, and gases (VOCs) and smoke caused by wildfires.

Humidifiers

The humidity levels in the office should be maintained between 30 and 50% in the office. This range helps to keep dust mites, mould and other allergens under control. In addition, when AC or heater makes the air in the room dry, humidifiers can maintain correct humidity levels.

Humidifiers I recommend

Name Why I recommend it
Amazon Basics Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier 4 litre of tank capacityAuto shut-off feature and 12 or 24-hour timer settingsIt can be used in both seasons
MOVTIP HumidifierPortable Mini-humidifier500 ml capacity, still produces longer mistsEasy to operate
LEVOIT HumidifierIt can be used for both seasons6 litres of capacity Easy to clean and has a remote control

Dehumidifiers 

Dehumidifiers also work similarly to humidifiers. It controls the high levels of humidity in the office.

Dehumidifiers I recommend

Name Why I recommend it
Pro Breeze DehumidifierCan extract 50 pints of moisture a dayEnergy-saving auto-off systemBuilt-in Humidity sensor
HOmeLabs DehumidifierEliminates moistness, odour controllerEasy to cleanRemovable water tank
TCL Portable Dehumidifier20 pints of moisture removed per dayIt can be operated at low temperatures tooEasy to maintain

Other FAQs about Air Quality that you may be interested in.

How does air pollution affect the soil?

How does air pollution affect the economy?

How does air pollution cause acid rain?

Conclusion

In this blog post, we discussed “Can Poor Air Quality Cause Sinus Issues?” Firstly, the article addressed air pollution. Then, the article clearly defined the meaning of the sinus and its function in your body. In addition, the report also outlined the relationship between poor air quality and sinus. In the end, the article provided you with detailed solutions to minimize air pollution.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Can Poor Air Quality Cause Sinus Issues?

Why do I suddenly have sinus problems?

Air pollution can cause you a sudden sinus problem. This is because the air you breathe may contain various pollutants, viruses, bacteria and allergens.

What is climate best for sinus problems?

A crisp, cool day with a slight breeze and no dust, mould, pollens or pollutants is suitable if you tend sinusitis. Unfortunately, the highly humid season is terrible for a sinus sufferer because of frequent temperature inversions and its capacity to trap numerous pollutants.

What triggers sinusitis?

Sinusitis is caused when you inhale toxic pollutants and bacteria. The infection developed in the sinuses or nasal polyps generates swelling in the lining of your sinuses. As a reason, you feel stuffy in the nose and pain and swelling in cheeks, eyes, nose or forehead.

What gets rid of sinus pressure?

You can get rid of sinus pressure with proper medications along with some home remedies. The home remedies which you can do are as follows:

  • Use a vaporizer or humidifier
  • Stay hydrated. Drink lots of fluids, drink warm water if possible.
  • Avoid chlorinated pools
  • Place a warm, wet towel on your face.
  • Use a nasal saline spray to get relieved from congestion
  • You can use a nasal irrigator or neti pot
  • Once your blockages are released, you can practice deep breathing exercise
  • You can take steam therapy

Can poor air quality cause sinus headaches?

Yes, poor air quality cause sinus headaches. Home residents with poor indoor air quality may complain of eye irritation, headaches, coughing, dizziness and nausea. 

What happens if you let a sinus infection go untreated?

If you let a sinus infection untreated, then it can spread to your meninges. The meninges are the protective coverings around your brain and spinal cord. The sinus infection makes them inflamed. This condition is called meningitis.

References

Sinus Conditions & treatments. Cedars. Available at: https://www.cedars-sinai.org/programs/sinus-center/conditions.html#:~:text=Purposes%20of%20the%20Sinuses,%2Dorganisms%2C%20dust%20and%20dirt.

Brownlee, C., 2018. Air Pollution’s link to chronic sinusitis. Air Pollution’s Link to Chronic Sinusitis. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/articles/air-pollutions-link–to-chronic-sinusitis  

London, N.R., Lina, I. & Ramanathan, M., 2018. Aeroallergens, air pollutants, and chronic rhinitis and rhinosinusitis. World Journal of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, 4(3), pp.209–215.

Preidt, R., 2021. Smoggy air might help spur sinusitis | health news | US news. Smoggy Air Might Help Spur Sinusitis. Available at: https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2021-08-04/smoggy-air-might-help-spur-sinusitis

Rapaport, L., 2020. Air pollution may aggravate nasal suffering with colds and seasonal allergies. Reuters. Available at: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-pollution-rhinitis-idUSKBN2072RX  

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