Q: I have moderate-persistent asthma and get frustrated with how often I get sinus infections. Is sinusitis actually connected to asthma and is there a good way to control it?
Dr. Bassett: The relationship of your sinuses and their effects on the lungs is well known. Some even refer to the nose-lung connection as the “united airways”.
It can be most vexing for a person with asthma to endure frequent episodes of worsening symptoms which may be attributed to chronic nasal allergies, sinus inflammation and, of course, infection.
If you have frequent sinus infections, it’s essential to have a structural evaluation performed by an ENT specialist. This may require x-rays to visualize the sinuses, which are especially helpful if there are issues with drainage.
Often, as immunologists, we can check immune system blood tests to determine any deficiencies in the body’s ability to fight infection. When asthma symptoms worsen, often your respiratory specialists will look for evidence of allergy-triggered symptoms and or untreated sinus disease or infection.
Nasal saline irrigation sprays and solutions, as well as topical medications (including antibiotics) can work to treat underlying problems or infection in the sinuses. This can put out the fire, so to speak, halting the cycle of symptoms of the upper and lower airways. A coordinated approach with your respiratory specialist and an ENT doctor can provide better long-term control of asthma.
Dr. Clifford Bassett, an allergist and asthma specialist, is the Medical Director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York (www.allergyreliefnyc.com; Twitter @allergyreliefny). He is also on the faculty of NYU School of Medicine and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.