Sinus Infection, Sinus Drainage And Ear Infection – A Nurse’s Guide

As you probably know the ears, nose and throat are connected to each other. I’ll show you how a sinus infection, sinus drainage and an ear infection are related. If you have a problem in one area it can spill over into another area. So if you have a problem in your throat it can affect your ears. It does this by its connection to the Eustachian tubes. The problem in your throat could be due to sinus drainage – that is – drainage from your sinuses into your throat cavity. This is a normal event because the sinuses drain about a quart of fluid a day.

But if the drainage contains infected material from your sinuses this can be very irritating and actually cause a minor irritated sore throat in the process. And the fluid drains over the Eustachian tubes as it flows from the nose to the throat causing them to become inflamed, which will prevent the tubes from opening up.

This infected material can make your tubes swell and cause a back up of fluid behind your eardrum. This can lead to ear infections if the swelling isn’t relieved soon. So it’s important to take care of any sinus infections or sinus problems as soon as you’re aware of it.

The Eustachian tubes are narrow passageways and connect the inside of the ears to the back of the nose in the area called the nasopharynx. The function of the tubes is to equalize the pressure between your ears and the air or atmosphere outside, for example when ears pop on an airplane, that’s your tubes closing and opening, especially on descent.

When the tubes become blocked and don’t open the way they should this can lead to Eustachian tube dysfunction. Pressure can build up in the ears and you can experience pain, decreased hearing or feel like your ears are blocked. Sometimes you won’t feel a thing. This condition can occur when you have a cold also. Tubes can become blocked and unblock themselves without your ever knowing.

Anything that causes the nose to swell inside besides sinus infections and sinus problems, say due to allergies, can also cause the tubes to swell up and become blocked.

So if you suspect you may have an ear infection or an ear problem and you also have a sinus infection, excessive sinus drainage or sinusitis make sure to take care of the sinus problem right away to try to clear up your ear problem before it gets worse. The sooner you can get rid of infected drainage from your sinuses the sooner you can unblock your Eustachian tubes and get better.