Sinus infections and bronchitis can cause similar symptoms, such as coughing and fever. Both usually go away without treatment, but people can take some steps to ease their symptoms.

Sinus infections and bronchitis are common respiratory conditions. They can have similar symptoms and causes.

Sinuses are air-filled cavities around a person’s nasal passages. Sinus infections cause mucus to build up in the sinuses due to inflammation, leading to a range of symptoms. People may also refer to a sinus infection as sinusitis.

Bronchitis refers to inflammation in a person’s bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from their lungs. People can experience acute (short term) or chronic (long term) bronchitis. Infections often cause acute bronchitis.

This article discusses whether there is a link between sinus infections and bronchitis. It also discusses symptoms, causes, and treatments for both conditions.

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Sinus infections and bronchitis are respiratory tract infections (RTIs). These are infections of parts of a person’s body involved in breathing.

Sinus infections affect someone’s sinuses and throat, and are a type of upper RTI. Bronchitis is a lower RTI that affects the airways in an individual’s lungs.

Viruses that cause sinusitis can also cause acute bronchitis or other RTIs, such as colds or flu. In some cases, having an upper RTI can cause a person to also develop bronchitis.

A 2022 study investigated associations between chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) and chronic bronchitis. The scientists studied data on 7,393 people in Norway over 5 years.

They noted that people with CRS may have increased odds of developing chronic bronchitis.

However, they used questionnaires to collect the data, rather than physical examinations. Therefore, further research may be necessary to confirm their findings.

Sinus infections and bronchitis share similar symptoms, but also have differences.

Sinus infection

Symptoms of a sinus infection may include:

According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), symptoms of sinusitis in children may also include:


Acute and chronic bronchitis can have the same symptoms, including:

Both sinus infections and bronchitis may result from viruses. However, multiple causes are possible.


Viruses cause sinusitis, in most cases. However, bacteria can also cause them, as well as:

  • allergens
  • irritants, which may include:
    • smoke
    • pet dander
    • dust
    • air pollution
  • fungi

Several factors can increase a person’s sinus infection risk:


Viral infections usually cause acute bronchitis, such as:

Less commonly, bacterial infections can also cause acute bronchitis.

Healthcare professionals define chronic bronchitis as when a person has bronchitis, and their airway linings stay inflamed for at least 3 months and returning for at least 2 years consecutively.

People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) frequently have chronic bronchitis as a symptom. The following factors may increase someone’s likelihood of developing chronic bronchitis:

Sinus infections and bronchitis may improve without treatment. However, treatments to help relieve symptoms of both conditions may be similar.

Sinus infection

Most sinus infections get better without treatment. Doctors may recommend a person wait 10 days to see whether their symptoms ease before prescribing medication.

This is to allow time for their immune system to fight the infection.

If it does not, doctors may prescribe antibiotics. However, antibiotics are not always necessary and may have harmful side effects. Antibiotics are not effective against viral infections, which are often responsible for sinusitis.

People may relieve sinus pain and pressure with:

  • warm compresses over their nose and forehead
  • steam inhalation
  • decongestants
  • saline nasal sprays
  • over-the-counter (OTC) medications


Acute bronchitis often goes away without treatment within days or weeks. Healthcare professionals only prescribe antibiotics for bacterial infections.

People can help alleviate symptoms by using:

  • OTC cough medications
  • hot water with honey
  • hot tea
  • throat lozenges
  • a humidifier
  • prescription inhalers, such as albuterol

Healthcare professionals treat chronic bronchitis to manage symptoms and improve breathing by:

  • prescribing medication
  • helping a person stop smoking
  • prescribing oxygen therapy or supplemental oxygen, which provides a person with extra oxygen to breathe
  • recommending pulmonary rehabilitation, which involves a person learning breathing techniques

Sinus infections and bronchitis are respiratory conditions with similar symptoms and causes. However, they are not the same and they affect different parts of the respiratory system.

Similar viruses can cause both conditions. In some cases, sinus infections can lead to bronchitis. Additionally, some research suggests that people with chronic sinusitis may have increased odds of developing chronic bronchitis.

Sinus infections and bronchitis may improve without treatment and people can use home remedies to help relieve symptoms of both conditions.

However, a person should consider speaking with a healthcare professional if their symptoms do not go away.