Avoiding Sinus Infections

The past six weeks have been very travel-heavy. I was gone every week, sometimes twice a week, culminating in the last week where I flew on 12 separate flights. This proved to be too much for my sinuses, and now I’ve got a sinus infection and am on a two week regimen of antibiotics. By definition, road warriors are around situations that can make them sick all the time—lots of people, dry airplane air, frequent pressure changes, etc. Sinus infections specifically are caused when the membranes in your nose and sinuses become irritated and then inflamed, caused by allergens, dust, or exposure to dry or cold air. This leads to a host of things, eventually resulting a buildup of bacteria. Sometimes after a lot of travel our bodies get run down, and we can’t help but get sick. But there are a few things you can do to help your body avoid sinus infections as much as possible.

  1. Wash your hands. Standard advice during cold and flu season, but remember to wash up often. Sinus infections can result from lingering colds, and washing hands helps prevent colds. This is even more important for frequent travelers.
  2. Drink hot liquids. Drinking hot tea (black, green, or herbal, it doesn’t matter) and soup can help keep your nasal passages moist. This is especially important while flying—ask for hot water and use your own tea bag to reap the benefits.
  3. Get plenty of rest. If you start feeling run down, take some time to rest. Laying around taking it easy for a weekend (or even an evening) can do wonders for your body.
  4. Use warm compresses. Lay a warm, damp towel over your eyes and forehead a couple of times a day. It’s not easy to do on the road, but try it right before you go to bed and when you wake up. This helps improve circulation in your sinuses.
  5. Use a neti pot. I’ve never done it (honestly I’m a little afraid) but people who use it to irrigate their sinuses swear by it. At this point, I’m considering it and will let you all know how it turns out.
  6. Take your vitamins. A good multi-vitamin and vitamin C will help keep your immune system healthy, which will prevent against all types of illness, not just sinus infections. Eating lots of vegetables will also pack you full of nutrients.

Currently, my doctor has me on two weeks of amoxicillin, and she wants me to use Sudafed and Mucinex daily. Luckily, sinus infections aren’t contagious so I can be around others without worrying about getting them sick. I’m going to take it easy this weekend so I can be healthy and ready to go for Thanksgiving. So fellow travelers, take care of yourselves and stay healthy this winter! Being sick is no fun.

Readers, what are your best tips for avoiding sickness?

*Note: Road Warriorette is not a physician, so with any OTC medications be sure to consult your physician.

Sources: BottomLineSecrets and Health.com.


  1. I tend to find a good allergy med is important as well. My allergies always go haywire while traveling and being stopped-up puts me at greater risk for sinusitis. Although mine tend to be viral rather than bacterial so the antibiotics do nothing for me.

    That and staying well hydrated (hot or cold!)

  2. I recently had a sinus infection that need antibiotics. I also used some saline nasal spray to irrigate, which is a bit less dramatic than using a pot! It really helped shorten the infection.

    Sleep is my top tip, but not always possible on the road with long hours. We are also big fans of Berocca (soluble vitamins) on tour. Eat your veggies! I think I’m going to try taking my own tea bags next time.

  3. I’m a road warrior who flies weekly, and I haven’t had a cold in 3 years (knock on wood!). I do all of the items on your list (minus the neti, also scared). I have a few to add…
    If my airplane seat is next to Typhoid Mary, I turn on the air vent on high, and point it directly in front of me. I got this hint from a fellow frequent flier, and I really think it helps reduce breathing in “sneeze droplets” (gross!). I always bring a scarf too, to keep myself warm while being blasted with the air, but also to cover my face if I’m next to a really sick person. I know I look paranoid, but I don’t care if it means I avoid getting a cold!
    I’d like to recommend two supplements which I adore: Source Naturals Wellness Formula, and Irwin Naturals Immuno Shield. If I am extra tired, worn down, or have been coughed on, I take 2-3 of each of them for a day or so.
    Finally, if I’m getting sick I avoid eating heavy foods and stick to liquids and fruits/vegetables, and definitely cut out all booze.
    I know I’m paranoid, but my 3 years “cold free” is a pretty good record. I just can’t stand being sick, especially on the road.

  4. Neti pot FTW. It’s weird and gross the first time, but so effective. I don’t bother with the special salts sold in health food stores. I just use 1/2 teaspoon of table salt with 2 cups of water. My neti pot holds about 1 cup, so I fill it once for each side.

  5. I was also scared of the neti pot and JUST tried it. I had a bad cold heinous sinus pain and it definitely helped to reduce it (and move all of the congestion along). I used one of those plastic bottles that you fill with water and a packet of solution and then push up your nose. It’s definitely an uncomfortable weird feeling, but you feel better afterwards. Go for it Road Warriorette! You can do it!

  6. Sinus infection, also called rhinosinusitis or sinusitis, makes it hard for the person infected to breathe. Help alleviate your sinus infection by drinking plenty of water and warm fluids, such as tea. Incorporating these kinds of food in your diet will also help such as fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, orange, grapefruit, avocado, pineapple, peppers, horseradish, garlic, probiotics, ginger, turmeric, honey, and coconut oil Avoid foods that cause or worsen congestion such as refined sugars, ice cream, chocolates, spicy foods, milk, tomatoes, wine, and other alcoholic drinks, red meat, cheese, pizza, gluten foods, banana, and nuts

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