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​Exercising with a sinus infection

​​​​​​​Could an illness get any worse by continuing to exercise through it? For some conditions, it can​.

Although sinus infections are common, for some activities, it is best to reduce playtime or sit out when you have one.​

A sinus infection is inflammation or swelling of your sinuses. This can be caused by a cold, allergies, non-allergic rhinitis (chronic sneezing or a congested, drippy nose with no apparent cause) or by nasal polyps, which are small growths in the lining of your nose. Sinus infection also may occur after a deviated septum.​

Symptoms you may experience with a sinus infection include:

  • Thick, yellow, foul-smelling nasal discharge
  • Pressure or pain around the face and eyes
  • Headache (generally in the forehead area)
  • Nasal obstruction
  • Congestion
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Cold symptoms that won't go away or get worse
  • Fever or cough

Nasal congestion is what prompts the risk factor when playing through a sinus infection. Weightlifting and running sports are most affected.

Clogged nasal passages may cause dizziness that can weaken coordination, muscle control and balance. For these reasons, it is recommended you do not weightlift with a sinus infection. You also should not exercise or participate in sports if you have chest pressure with a sinus infection. This can make breathing difficult, which makes the heart work faster, possibly leading to a heart attack or stroke.

You easily can become ​dehydrated if you have a sinus infection. Ironically, treatment includes drinking plenty of water and hydrating beverages such as hot tea. You should consume at least twice the amount of fluid you would on a regular basis. Inhaling steam, using a steam vaporizer or taking a hot steamy shower also may help because these activities promote nasal drainage.

Over-the-counter sinus medications that combine decongestants and cough suppressants may also reduce symptoms. Pain medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen can reduce pain and inflammation, thereby reducing swelling that blocks airways. Antibiotics also can be prescribed.

If you have a sinus infection, the best advice is to pay attention to the signs and symptoms you are experiencing. You may feel well enough to participate in the activity, but may want to do so in moderation. 

Sports wrap is now part of Shine365, a health and wellness blog from Marshfield Clinic. 

Visit Shine365 today.​

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