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Sinus Infections & Swimming

Sinus Infections & Swimming
Sinus infections slow you down. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

You swim for fitness, but sinus infections that occur with greater frequency after you swim can sideline you and cause congestion and pain. Understanding the condition, its causes and how to treat it is important to avoid continued problems.


Your sinuses are cavities behind your cheekbones, forehead and jaw that filter the impurities you breathe in. Mucus traps dirt and germs, and tiny hairs called cilia sweep out the debris via your nose before the foreign material makes you sick. When your sinuses plug up, you become vulnerable to sinus infection.


Sinus infections occur when viruses or bacteria invade the linings of your sinus passages and replicate there. Changes in pressure in your sinus canal occur when you dive in water or swim under the surface and lead to blocked sinuses. Inadequate swimming pool sanitation also leads to sinus infection when contaminated water enters your sinuses. Secondary causes include existing irritation and inflammation of sinus passages from pool chemicals.


Typically, you experience pain with sinus infection caused by pressure buildup in the canals. Pain in your face, behind your eyes or jaw and headaches sometimes accompanies the condition. Pressure causes you to feel congested or "stuffy." Your immune system usually deals with infections in time, but bacterial infections sometimes need antibiotic treatment to resolve, reports the American Family Physician website.


Avoid poorly maintained swimming pools, or those with bad ventilation. Wear nose clips to prevent water from entering the sinus cavities if you have sensitivity to chlorinated or treated pool water. After swimming, irrigate your sinuses with saline or salt water. Maintain good hygiene and avoid contact with people who have colds or the flu; wash your hands often and thoroughly. Rest and do not swim until you feel completely better.


Some infections progress unless treated. See your physician if you feel worse or fail to get better after resting. Change swimming pools if you find that you get recurrent infections. The pool's sanitation may be inadequate and allows the survival of bacteria and viruses despite chemical treatment.

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