The Asthma Center

Asthma and sinus disease

There is a well known link between asthma and sinusitis. Several theories as to why these two diseases are related have been put forth. These include:

  • Inflammatory processes from exposure to common environmental irritants, infections and allergens which can affect the mucosal lining of the sinus and lower airway simultaneously
  • Both the sinuses and lungs share nervous tissue connections between the nose, sinuses and lungs
  • Post nasal drip may trigger cough and asthmatic inflammation
  • The sinuses, nose and lungs make up one airway and respond together when one area is triggered

About half of all children and adolescents with asthma have at sometime had radiographic evidence or symptoms of sinusitis. Recent studies have also shown that asthma severity at times may be linked with the severity of sinus disease. Most studies indicate that asthmatic airway irritability of the lungs may improve with sinusitis treatment.

The precise relationship between asthma and sinusitis is still unknown. However studies can explain the improvement in asthma with improvement in sinusitis by several possible mechanisms. These include:

  • Decrease in post nasal drip into the lungs
  • Decrease in irritant cough triggers (coughing can trigger asthma)
  • Decrease in inflammatory chemicals from diseased sinuses that adversely affect the lungs
  • Decrease in asthmatic irritability triggered by inflammatory processes in the throat and/or infected sinuses

If you have chronic sinus disease, you should be carefully evaluated for concurrent asthma and vice versa. Specific therapies for sinusitis may have a positive impact on asthma care.