Are Sinus Infections and Heartburn related?

Many patients suffer from ailments in which the symptoms are comparable to other ailments. This similarity in symptoms can often lead us to misdiagnose what we are actually suffering from.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), more commonly referred to as heartburn is an ailment in which the acid in our stomach refluxes from the stomach back up into the esophagus. The acid can cause an uncomfortable burning in the chest as well as an acrid or sour taste in our mouths. One reason for the reflux is a weakening of the lower esophageal sphincter which is the muscle that closes the stomach off from the esophagus.

The reflux of acid in to the esophagus can cause other symptoms such as congestion in the throat as well as a constant need to clear the throat. These symptoms can also be prevalent in those who suffer from sinus infections or chronic sinusitis. Sinusitis occurs when the mucosal lining in the para-nasal sinuses become inflamed from either infection or contaminants in the air such as pollen.

The inflammation of the mucosal lining can cause a buildup of fluid in the sinuses that will drain down the back of the throat causing inflammation in the throat, cough and congestion in the throat and chest when the symptoms are not properly addressed.

Because some of the symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and sinusitis can mimic each other, it is important to recognize the factors that may be contributing to these symptoms. Heartburn may be exacerbated by the foods we eat such a tomatoes, coffee, tea, or other caffeinated or acidic type foods or eating later at night just prior to going to sleep. Symptoms may also become more severe at night while we are lying down and stomach acid can reflux more easily without fighting against gravity.

Sinus symptoms will become more prevalent during certain seasons when pollen is in the air, grass is being cut and weather changes dramatically. Others who suffer from chronic sinusitis may have their symptoms worsen from other factors as well. Recognizing the difference in symptoms and the factors that cause the symptoms will help us attain the correct treatment to minimize the suffering and treat the correct malady.

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