Summer Fun and Sinus Health: How to Enjoy Swimming Without Irritation

A man holding his nose as he swims.

As the summer sun beckons us towards pools and beaches, our excitement for outdoor fun and refreshing swims rises. Yet, if the thought of battling persistent nasal congestion and allergies while trying to enjoy the water makes you hesitate, it's time to uncover the secret to swimming without the burden of congestion weighing you down.

Fortunately, there's a delightful solution that allows you to fully immerse yourself in the joys of summer without any concerns about sinus problems— especially if you're a water enthusiast. 

But if you're not familiar with how the water can affect your sinus health, let's go into that first. If not, you can skip right to our tips and tricks here!

How Swimming Can Affect Your Sinuses

35 percent of swimmers have reported experiencing nasal congestion or a runny nose after they swam. This could be for a few reasons. 

The first of which is that you got water in your nose— this is extremely common. Water in your nasal cavities causes irritation, which can cause that familiar sinus congestion or runny nose. Bacteria in the water can also cause nasal irritation.

Even though you're in the water, your seasonal allergy symptoms can also cause problems. For example, if you have a pollen allergy, any pollen on the water's surface can trigger your allergy symptoms. 

It's also possible to develop a sensitivity to the chlorine in pool water, which can cause congestion after you swim. Chlorine can cause irritation of your sinuses as well as inflammation of your nasal lining, leading to sinusitis.

Swimming with a Sinus Infection? Here's What You Need to Know.

We've written an article all about sinusitis, also known as sinus infections, on our blog. If you want to learn more about sinusitis, check it out once you're done here!

Sinus infections are caused by inflammation in your nasal passages from bacteria, viruses, allergens, or even fungi. When you swim underwater, the pressure under the water affects your sinuses and can potentially block them. This change in pressure can force water into your sinuses, even if you don't accidentally get water in your nose. This can cause your mucus to thicken up and your sinuses to become congested and irritated by chlorine or any bacteria not killed by the chlorine in the water.

All this can create a perfect storm of factors that can cause a sinus infection. If you're swimming and you already have sinusitis or the common cold, pool chemicals can further irritate your sinuses and worsen your symptoms.

How Different Water Affects Your Sinuses

During the summer, the various types of water you swim in can have distinct impacts on your nasal health. Let's explore the three primary types of water commonly encountered and their effects on your sinuses.

Chlorinated Water

Chlorinated water, like what you'll find in public pools, hot tubs, or private swimming pools, is a popular way to stay cool during the summer for kids and adults alike. We already talked about chlorinated water's effects on your sinuses a little earlier, so we'll recap it for you here.

  • The pressure created by swimming underwater (in any kind of water) can force water into your nose, irritating your sinuses. Any bacteria, allergens, or chlorine in or on the water can irritate your sinus passages further.
  • It's also possible to develop a sensitivity to chlorine, especially if you swim frequently. This sensitivity can irritate your sinuses and cause congestion or a runny nose. 
  • Chlorine can also contribute to sinus infections; this is sometimes known as swimmer's sinusitis. [1]

Salt Water

Most of the water on the planet is salt water, thanks to our oceans. Swimming in salt water is also a little different than swimming in your community pool or local lake. Salt water's characteristic saltiness makes it much easier for you to stay afloat so you can devote more energy to swimming. 

However, the soft tissue in your mouth or nose may swell after prolonged exposure to salt water. Swollen sinus passages, of course, can cause nasal congestion. 

So if you've ever wondered if swimming in salt water could offer you the same cleansing benefits as a quick rinse with a saline solution, we don't recommend trying that.

Fresh Water

Fresh water, like what's found in lakes, ponds, rivers, or creeks, of course, lacks the salinity of salt water. As such, you won't experience the extra buoyancy that you would in salt water.

Fresh water also lacks the main irritants that exist in the latter two examples (salt and chlorine) that can inflame your sinuses. 

Any allergens in or on the water, particularly pollen, can give you grief especially if you're swimming during the thick of allergy season.

While you can still get it from chlorinated water, swimming in fresh water may also make you more likely to develop swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear is a type of ear infection that, as the name suggests, is most often caused when water gets trapped in your ear canal. This can cause bacteria to multiply, causing the infection as well as symptoms like ear pain, blocked ears, and reduction or loss in hearing. [2]

How to Enjoy Swimming without Irritating Your Sinuses

As we often say here, prevention is the best cure. The best way to prevent all kinds of sinus irritation and discomfort is to prevent water from entering your nose. Here are a few methods you can try to prevent sinus problems from ruining your summer fun in the water.

1. Wear a Nose Clip

While nose clips may not be the trendiest swim accessory, they can certainly be helpful in preventing water-related nasal issues. Nose clips are small padded clips designed to keep water out of your nose while you swim. Used correctly, it works exactly as advertised in keeping water, allergens, and bacteria out of your nasal passages. 

However, it is possible that a nose clip can trap any water already in your nose, creating unpleasant nasal discharge (snot) as well as causing congestion. It's essential to use nose clips with caution and ensure proper nasal hygiene to avoid any discomfort or adverse effects.

2. Avoid Unsanitary Water

It may go without saying, but if the water looks unsanitary or polluted, don't swim in it. It could be harder to tell if water is safe to swim in outside of your public pool, but here are a few red flags to watch out for if you're swimming in fresh water.

  • Stagnant water, especially warm stagnant water. This is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, as well as mosquitoes.
  • Water with obvious algae blooms. Algae blooms degrade water quality, making it smell and taste bad. It can also kill aquatic organisms like fish by depriving the water of oxygen.
  • Water that is heavily polluted, smells bad, or looks visibly filthy.

3. Avoid Your Allergy Triggers

Allergy season can vary from person to person, and what kind of allergens trigger your symptoms. Pollen can collect on water's surface, as well as under it. The best way to avoid triggering your pollen allergy while you swim is to avoid swimming on days with high pollen counts. 

If your summer allergies include dirt or dust, avoid swimming on dusty days or windy days with lots of blowing dust. If you live in regions where wildfires are common and smoke triggers your symptoms, avoid going outside on smoky days.

4. Stay Hydrated

Summer heat is a fast track for dry nasal passages and dehydration, especially if you live in dry or arid regions. Dehydration and dry nasal passages are surefire ways to cause nasal irritation, inflammation, and nasal congestion.

To fight this, make sure you stay adequately hydrated, especially on those hot and dry days. You can do this by drinking at least 8 cups of water daily, and consuming plenty of water-rich produce, like watermelon or cucumbers.

5. Decongest with SinuSonic

Sometimes nasal congestion strikes before you hit the pool— or after, of course. To prevent it from driving you crazy, try SinuSonic!

SinuSonic uses gentle pressure and light acoustic vibrations to decongest your sinuses naturally. SinuSonic helps increase lung function and ciliary motility in your nose, helping with the transportation of fluid out of your nose.

If swimming is not just a leisure activity but also a form of exercise for you, incorporating SinuSonic into your routine before your workouts can help enhance your breathing efficiency during physical activity.

After you take a dip in the pool, why not dive into the refreshing experience of SinuSonic to keep your sinuses clear and make post-swim congestion a thing of the past?

Blow Nasal Congestion Out of the Water with SinuSonic!

With summer just around the corner, it's no surprise that many people will be drawn to the water like ducks, seeking a refreshing way to beat the heat and stay cool. Nasal congestion is a common experience after hitting the pool, but it doesn't have to drive you crazy. There are plenty of ways to enjoy swimming without irritation (even if you're swimming with a sinus infection). All it takes is a little pre-planning and prevention.

Are you swimming in sinus problems? Give SinuSonic a try!

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  1. “Treatment Options for Swimmer's Sinusitis.” New York Sinusitis Treatment, 29 July 2020,
  2. “Swimmer's Ear: Symptoms & Treatments.” Cleveland Clinic,