Many people dealing with cystic fibrosis also deal with sinusitis and other sinus health issues. CF impacts the regular flow of water and salt in and out of your lungs. This leads to the creation of thick mucus that provides the perfect environment for sinus-impacting viruses and bacteria to breed. If you or your child have been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, then this article will help you understand how this may impact your sinuses.

How Common Are Sinus Issues With Cystic Fibrosis?

In a cystic fibrosis, carrier¬†sinusitis is commonly a co-morbid condition. The great majority of patients dealing with CF will eventually develop issues with their sinuses. Unfortunately, there’s no concrete research regarding its prevalence thus far, so the true incidence of sinus problems in people with CF remains unknown. However, most CF patients develop sinus symptoms between ages 5 and 14. The sinus symptoms are usually chronic.


Adult CF patients with sinus issues will often report headaches that are unresponsive to common headache treatments. However, this is one of the rarer symptoms of sinus disease. More common symptoms in adults and children alike include:

  • Nasal congestion or obstruction
  • Chronic discharge
  • Morning cough with post-nasal drip
  • Increased coughing while lying down
  • Severe foul breath
  • Constant urge to clear your throat
  • Facial pressure
  • Discolored drainage

Ways To Help Prevent Sinus Disease With Cystic Fibrosis

Unfortunately, there’s no definitive way to prevent sinus disease. Treat your cystic fibrosis with a qualified physician to give yourself the best chance of avoiding the condition. Common treatments include:

  • Oxygen therapy
  • Nasal and sinus surgery
  • Noninvasive ventilation
  • Surgery to repair and replace other organs damaged by the condition

You should also ensure your sinuses are well-cared-for whether you have symptoms of sinus disease or not. You can do things such as:

How To Treat CF-Related Sinusitis

Treatment of CF-related sinus disease varies. Your rhinologist and any other physicians involved in your case will take note of your symptoms and design a treatment plan that works best for your situation. Some common treatments for CF-related sinus disease include:

  • Nasal steroids
  • Antibiotics
  • Antibiotic or saline flushes for mechanical clearance
  • Decongestants and antihistamines
  • Surgical intervention.

Following the treatment outlined by your physician will give you the best chance of living comfortably with both cystic fibrosis and sinus disease. Most patients benefit from a combination of all of the therapies above. These therapies are also used to treat non-CF patients with severe and chronic sinus disease.
Although sinus problems are common in people with cystic fibrosis, there are things you can do to help prevent and treat them when they occur. Speaking to a qualified rhinologist will help you deal with the issues when they arise. Keep track and make note of symptoms such as nasal congestion, facial pressure, discolored drainage, and decreased smell or taste. Get in contact with your rhinologist if you develop these symptoms or if any pre-existing ones worsen.