Sinus Infection and Eye Pain
Last updated: September 2023
About a month ago, I had a sinus infection. While it obviously sucked to be sick for almost two weeks, one thing about it was really surprising. Despite my dry eye being mostly under control, my eye pain increased significantly. I’ve previously written an article about how eye pain is my worst dry eye symptom but this was so much worse.
Sinus infection impact on eyes
One of the first symptoms of my sinus infection was eye pain and discharge. Before I realized I was sick and went to the doctor, I was extremely worried. I thought I somehow had the worst dry eye flare up of my life. To an extent, I’m used to my eyes hurting. They always hurt and will only hurt more if my autoinflammatory arthritis is flaring up, if I’ve been exposed to irritants (dust, sand, wind, dryness), or if I haven’t been keeping up with my eye care routine. But this pain was like the volume on my usual pain was turned up.
My eyes were hurting so much that I was using my Bruder eye compress at least twice a day when I usually would only use it once. I was also using cold compresses throughout the day as well. My artificial tear eye drops were barely making a difference. These would help alleviate some of the pain, but until I got treated for my sinus infection, my eyes still hurt so much. While I usually consistently use my Bruder eye compress daily, I often forget to put in my eye drops and was kicking myself from the moment my pain first worsened. I thought I had done something wrong and was blaming myself for the pain being worse.
An extreme pain level
But this sinus infection was so much more painful so I’m glad I went to the doctor and got it checked out. On a scale of 1 to 10, with one being little to no pain and 10 being the worst pain imaginable, I’d rate my day-to-day dry eye pain at about a 5. On days when my dry eye pain is worse, I’d rate it at about a 7. My dry eye is largely caused by my autoimmune disease so since I’ve been getting effective treatment for that, my dry eye has been pretty stable and manageable and doesn’t get to an 8 anymore let alone a 10. But when this sinus infection hit me, I was averaging at a 9 on the pain scale for about a week. Even blinking hurt and my light sensitivity was so much worse.
Can anyone relate to colds causing eye pain?
I know that the eye pain and discharge are symptoms of a sinus infection (according to my doctor) but it surprised me because I never thought a cold could exacerbate my dry eyes. Especially since, when I’ve gotten sick in the past, my eye pain never got this bad. So, from now on, if I start developing a cold or get another sinus infection, I’ll be sure to take extra care of my eyes.
Has an infection or cold ever worsened your dry eyes?
Has having dry eye helped you better advocate for yourself?