The respiratory system in our body is build up from many organs that linked and connected to each other through some respiratory tracts. Even though their locations are quite distant, sinuses and bronchial tubes are also linked to each other. This is why sinusitis and bronchitis are also tightly-related to each other. Both sinusitis and bronchitis have similar symptoms and causes, but there are also some aspects that discriminate them from each other.
Bronchitis, as described in the name, is a respiratory disease that takes place in the bronchial tubes. Bronchial tubes are the ‘air-pipes’ that leads to the lungs. Bronchitis is a condition where the tubes become swollen due to some irritations. Generally, this disease is divided into two types. The first type is called ‘chronic bronchitis’. Chronic bronchitis usually takes longer time to pop-out and show any symptoms. This is why a lot of people don’t realize that they bear this disease. It is mainly caused by environmental factors like dust, smoke, and other air-borne particles that can irritate the bronchial tubes. If the inflammation in the bronchial-tubes is not treated properly, the tubes can be permanently swollen. Furthermore, the inflammation would straiten the diameter of the tubes and eventually, clog the bronchial tubes, allowing no air to pass through it. The term chronic bronchitis refers to a condition where the symptoms last for more than three months. The other type, acute-bronchitis, is usually caused by microbial infection. Air-borne pathogens can cause infection in the bronchial tubes and stimulate excess mucus-production.
Similar to bronchitis, sinusitis can also be a result of both irritants and pathogens infection. These causative factors are introduced to both the sinuses and bronchial tubes through the air we inhaled. Sinuses are the small caves located in the facial skull. These cavities are exposed directly to the air inlet from the nose through some tiny tubes. Sinuses are more risky at getting infections from environment than the bronchial tubes. Why would I say that? Well, first of all, sinuses are located in the upper respiratory tract while the bronchial tubes are in the lower respiratory tract. This means that the air-borne pathogens will have to pass the sinuses first before reaching the bronchial tubes. Both sinuses and bronchial tubes are covered by tiny hair named cilia and slimy mucus produced by the nasal membrane. Cilia and mucus work together in trapping these pathogens and sweeping them out of the nasal tract. Sinusitis, however, can paralyze the cilia and in the same time, stimulate the nasal membrane to produce excess mucus. This condition is so much identical to the one that happens in the bronchial tubes in a case of bronchitis. So, in particular, the only thing that differentiates bronchitis and sinusitis is the infection site.
In some cases, sinusitis can also lead to bronchitis. As mentioned above, sinuses and bronchial tubes are connected to each other through the respiratory ducts. If infection occurs in the sinuses, mucus will be accumulated in these cavities. The thick mucus-pool formed in the sinuses is a perfect place for microbes to breed. And believe me, when your sinuses are filled with infectious microbes, it’s hard to keep other organs in the same tract, like the bronchial tubes, clean from these pathogens. This is why people who suffer from sinusitis will most likely develop bronchitis if they don’t treat the sinusitis properly.
Both sinusitis and bronchitis are common during winter. The two of them, as mentioned before, are mostly caused by microbes such as Haemophillus influenza and Streptococcus pneumoniae. For this reason, these two diseases are often treated with antibiotics. Orally taken antibiotics are mostly preferred. Unfortunately, unlike the bronchial tubes, the sinuses are not fully covered by blood vessels. This makes the oral-antibiotics not too efficient in the case of sinusitis. More-severe sinusitis requires further treatments such as nasal spray or even surgery.