Summer is in Houston, and the sun is relentless! Taking a dip in the swimming pool can offer a moment of relief from the sweltering heat. Unfortunately, the very water that’s helping you stay cool in the summer sun can actually cause more discomfort than relief. When chlorine gets in the ears or nose, it can cause irritation and swelling, which over time can contribute to the development of a sinus infection. A sinus infection, also known as sinusitis, occurs when the delicate skin lining your sinuses swells, which traps mucus inside your sinus chambers, allowing bacteria to grow.
Some of the most common symptoms of sinusitis include facial pain and pressure at your temples, beneath your eyes, and in your forehead. Sinus infections can also cause nasal congestion, which can weaken your sense of smell. In addition to facial pain and congestion, the symptoms of sinusitis can include a runny nose and phlegm, making you and your tissues inseparable companions. All this discomfort can lead to insomnia and fatigue as you struggle to sleep through sinus pain and pressure. If these symptoms describe your experience in the days following a swim, chlorine may be irritating your sinuses. Don’t despair, this doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to sitting poolside while everyone else has fun in the water.
There are some preventative measures you can take to help keep chlorine from irritating your sinuses. If you swim in a public pool, ask staff when they do chlorine treatments. Chlorine levels will be highest right after the pool has been treated, so avoid swimming the first couple days after chlorine has been added to the water. In addition to avoiding the pool on days with high chlorine counts, there are other measures you can take to protect your sinuses during a swim. Before jumping in, put on swimming ear plugs and a nose clip. They may not look fashion forward, but ear plugs and a nose clip help prevent chlorine from reaching your sinuses. Also, after you finish your swim, use a neti pot with a sterile saline solution to rinse off any residual chlorine that might have slipped past your nose clip and ear plugs. Finally, don’t delay your post-swim shower for hours after taking a swim, soap up and rinse off all the lingering chlorine as soon as you’re finished taking a dip. Showering immediately after a swim has the added benefit of helping prevent chlorine from drying out your skin and hair.
If even after taking these preventative measures sinusitis still keeps you from enjoying your summer swims to the fullest, there may be a bigger underlying issue behind your sinus troubles. Seeking out care from a specialized physician is the first step in finding the best course of treatment for you. Dr. Pasha always works with patients to find and treat their sinus conditions at the source, clearing their sinuses so they can breathe freely again. Don’t let swimmer’s sinusitis ruin your poolside plans, secure an appointment with Dr. Pasha today!