Acid Reflux and Sinus Congestion – Is There Any Relation?

Acid Reflux and Sinus Congestion

As you know someone who suffers from acid reflux has acid reflux up and out of their stomach where it can cause a host of symptoms. For someone with GERD or minor acid reflux the acid usually effects the area just above the stomach and this often leads to symptoms like heartburn.

For someone with LPR (silent reflux) the acid will reflux all the way up and enter the throat area where the most common symptoms arise. Whether you have a more serious problem with acid reflux or only a minor one both sets of people’s sinuses can be affected by reflux.

Can Acid Reflux Cause Sinus Problems?

Of course, it is possible acid can reflux up until the point where it can affect your sinuses and even cause nasal congestion. Not only can it block your sinuses, but it can also affect your breathing in more serious cases. As you would imagine the acid causes direct inflammation which can make the sinuses more swollen. Also, along with the acid there is a thing called pepsin which refluxes up. Pepsin is a digestive enzyme that is produced in the stomach and is used to break down proteins in the stomach. When pepsin enters the throat and the airways it will only further irritate and inflame them.

While anyone with acid reflux can be affected it is more prominent in people who suffer from LPR. This is because for someone with LPR it is more typical for the acid to reflux up into the throat where it can start to reach your sinuses. Whereas for someone with GERD or just minor acid reflux it is more uncommon for acid to reflux further up the esophagus and start to affect your sinuses/breathing though it is still possible.

Some people who may be suffering from breathing problems may have difficulty knowing if their problem is related to acid reflux or instead asthma – luckily there is a reliable way to know the difference. Someone who has asthma will have difficulty exhaling (breathing out) whereas someone who is being affected by acid reflux will have trouble inhaling (breathing in). This is the clear distinction between the 2 that is important to know.

Also it’s worth mentioning that there is a relation between acid reflux and sinusitis. If you didn’t know sinusitis is a problem where the lining of the sinuses become inflamed. Of of the more common causes is due to viral infections but in our case the acid is causing the damage and inflammation. The same thing can also be said for post nasal drip and acid reflux. It’s a cause that sometimes isn’t even considered.

So, to simply round everything up – can acid reflux cause sinus congestion? The simple answer is yes it absolutely can.

The thing you are most likely thinking now is how can I prevent it from happening. Well there are a host of things you can do which will lower the chance of acid reflux. Firstly, I would recommend checking out my article of how to get rid of acid reflux in the throat – the reason I recommend this article is because the same advice that I have suggested in this article will directly help with any form of sinus congestion due to acid reflux. Secondly I would also recommend my article on LPR symptoms where I talk about the symptoms of silent reflux in detail which could be potentially effecting you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Acid Reflux Cause Sinus Problems?

Yes basically acid and more importantly pepsin can reflux up into the throat and even enter the airways. This can inflame the airways and throat which can affect your sinus and even breathing.

Can Acid Reflux Cause Mucus?

Yes when you reflux acid up into your throat the body’s measure to protect it is to create more mucus. This can sometimes lead to excess mucus in the throat.

How to Get Rid of Acid Reflux in Your Throat?

The best way to get rid of acid reflux in your throat is by a strict low acid diet. Also in terms of medication the best choice is taking the UK version of Gaviscon Advance after meals and before bedtime. Read more here – Why Gaviscon Advance is the Best Gaviscon

Can a Virus Cause Acid Reflux?

Anything is possible though this wouldn’t be a common cause.

Can a Cold Make Acid Reflux Worse?

Yes possibly a cold could make it worse. This could be because of the cough exerting more pressure on the stomach area and chest and it can even aggravate the chest muscles which is a similar area people can be affected with heartburn etc.

What Foods Help Acid Reflux Go Away?

As a broad answer low acid foods, but more specific options which can help and relief are – banana, cucumber, celery, rolled oats just to name a few.

A Few Extra Talking Points –

Acid Reflux Phlegm Stuck in Throat

This is because the acid reflux causes inflammation and the body tries to create more mucus to help protect the throat and this can lead to phlegm build up. The best way to prevent this is to stop the acid reflux through a low acid diet like the Wipeout Diet.

Relationship Between GERD and Sinusitis

So what is the relationship between GERD and sinusitis? Well acid reflux can cause sinus issues so there is a definite possibility that GERD is causing your sinusitis. In fact the more appropriate term is Laryngopharyngeal Reflux which is a different form of acid reflux which primarily affects around the throat area and a somewhat common symptom with it is sinus and breathing issues.

Can Omeprazole Cause Sinus Problems?

No omeprazole shouldn’t cause sinus problems. Though acid reflux definitely can cause it. Importantly this kind of acid reflux is called – Laryngopharyngeal Reflux.

6 thoughts on “Acid Reflux and Sinus Congestion – Is There Any Relation?”

  1. Avatar for D. Mattox

    Can LPR give you with a sinus headache, occasional ear ache, and resulting balance problems? Increasingly worse over the past 2-3 years. Not allergies. Thank you.

    1. Avatar for David Gray

      I think it is possible. At least the part with ear problems and earache. I am not certain it could affect your balance though. Hope this helps.

  2. Avatar for Wadebrown

    I’ve been having problems for years with coughing, post nasal issues. Nasal swelling,coughing clearing my throat with minimal phlegm expelled. I have a lot of issues when I go outside and it’s 35 degrees or below, my lungs start hurting right away and I start coughing. Could be 2 issues.
    Had breathing tests done, allergy tests done had a scope ran through my sinuses every thing is fine they say.
    They gave me fluaxetine nasal spray, azelatine nasal spray, albuteral rescue inhaler and omeprazole 60 mg for acid reflux.
    I still have issues everyday. When I sit in my chair, or going to bed laying down my head seems to plug up(sinus swelling). What do you think I should do? The doctors are giving me the runaround.
    I can sleep at night. I take sleeping pills and still wake myself in the middle of the night, like right now it’s 4 a.m., I’ve been up since 11:30.
    Thanks for any advice.

    1. Avatar for David Gray

      Hey Wade,
      Best advice I can give you is diet changes like the diet I created on my blog. Also the best medication is Gaviscon Advance (UK version) for LPR, PPIs usually don’t help people with LPR. Ideally slowly tapering off them would be best.

  3. Avatar for

    I have been suffering with reflux for a number of weeks now but also have bad sinus problems. It is most uncomfortable as I feel sometimes my airways are not clear and i have also felt I am breathless. Find it difficult to drive when I feel this way or go about my everyday chores normally. You article has really helped me to understand more thank you

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