Tired and Achy? Check Your Sinuses | Reader's Digest

Tired and Achy? Check Your Sinuses

Recurring sinus infections may be the culprit behind arthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue diagnoses.

By Elena Rover from Reader's Digest | January 2009
Sinus Symptoms and FatigueIllustrated by Lon Tweeten; Photo: Marcus Lyon/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

If you feel worn-out and sore, it could be all in your head — specifically your sinuses. It’s even possible that your arthritis, fibromyalgia, or chronic fatigue syndrome is a misdiagnosis of pain and tiredness from recurring sinus infections, says Alexander C. Chester, MD, a clinical professor of medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center.

1.) Symptoms
Dr. Chester estimates that half of people with chronic sinusitis have serious body aches and fatigue. The pain can be all over but more pronounced in spots like the shoulders, neck, and hips. Tooth pain and sensitivity can also send people racing to the dentist, when a sinus infection is the actual culprit.

2.) Home care
First try a saline spray, decongestant, or antihistamine. Capsaicin pepper spray is an alternative remedy showing some promise. Staying well hydrated can keep nasal secretions flowing freely, preventing stuffiness that can harbor infection. If symptoms persist, talk to your doctor about prescription remedies. Antibiotics can cure bacterial infections and reduce swelling in sinuses.

3.) Surgery
Dr. Chester advises considering surgery after three months of unsuccessful treatment. More than 200,000 endoscopic sinus surgeries are done in the United States each year to enlarge narrow passages and improve drainage. They have an 85 percent success rate. The operation takes about an hour and can be done under general or local anesthesia.