(usually in children), structural problems in the
What is sinusitis?Sinusitis is infection or inflammation nose such as a deviated septum, and other
of the lining of the sinus cavities. These are hollow conditions can also block the nasal passages,
spaces in your cheeks and around your eyes. Sinus increasing the risk of developing sinusitis.
infections often follow a cold and cause pain and
pressure in your head and face. -Fungal infections may also cause sinusitis. This is
especially true in people with impaired immune
Sinusitis can be either acute (sudden) or chronic systems. Fungal sinusitis tends to be chronic and
(long-term). With chronic sinusitis, the infection or more difficult to treat than bacterial sinusitis.
inflammation does not completely go away for 8
weeks or more. The same viruses that cause the common cold
cause most cases of sinusitis.
Sinusitis is an infection or inflammation of the When the lining of the sinus cavities gets inflamed
mucous membranes that line the inside of the nose from a viral infection like a cold, it swells. This is
and facial sinuses. Facial sinuses are hollow spaces, viral sinusitis. The swelling can block the normal
or cavities, located in the skull around the eyes, drainage of fluid from the sinuses into the nose
cheeks, and nose. (When a mucous membrane and throat. If the fluid cannot drain and builds up
becomes inflamed, it swells, blocking the drainage over time, bacteria or fungi (plural of fungus) may
from the sinuses into the nose and throat and start to grow in it. These bacterial or fungal
causing pressure and pain in the sinuses. Bacteria infections can cause more swelling and pain. They
are more likely to grow in sinuses that are unable to are more likely to last longer, get worse with time,
drain properly. Symptoms may include pain and and become chronic.
pressure in the face, yellow or greenish discharge
from the nose, nasal congestion, and sometimes a Nasal allergies or other problems that block the
fever, a chronic cough that produces mucus, and a nasal passages and allow fluid to build up in the
reduced sense of taste or smell. Sinusitis often sinuses can also lead to sinusitis.
improves on its own, but it may need to be treated
with antibiotics or other medications if symptoms What are the symptoms?
are severe or last longer than 4 weeks.)
The main symptoms of sinusitis are a runny or
stuffy nose and pain and pressure in your head
What causes sinusitis?
and face. You may also have a yellow or green
drainage or drip from your nose or down the
Sinusitis can be caused by three things:
back of your throat (postnasal discharge).
Where you feel the pain and tenderness
Viruses. Bacteria. Fungi.
depends on which sinus is affected.
Sinusitis is most often the result of a viral infection
that causes the mucous membrane lining the Other common symptoms of sinusitis may
inside of the nose and the sinuses to become include:
headache. bad breath, cough that produces
-The mucous membrane swells when it becomes mucus, fever. pain in your teeth, reduced sense
inflamed, blocking the drainage of fluid from the of taste or smell.
sinuses into the nose and throat.
Pain and pressure in the face along with a
-Mucus and fluid build up inside the sinuses,
stuffy or runny nose are the main symptoms of
causing pressure and pain.
sinusitis. You also may have a yellow or
-Bacteria are more likely to grow in sinuses that greenish discharge from your nose. Leaning
are unable to drain properly. Bacterial infection in forward or moving your head often increases
the sinuses often causes more inflammation and facial pain and pressure. The location of pain
pain. and tenderness may depend on which sinus is
-While colds usually trigger this process, any factor
that causes the mucous membrane to become -Pain over the cheeks and upper teeth is often
inflamed may lead to sinusitis. Many people with caused by maxillary sinus inflammation.
nasal allergies (allergic rhinitis), for instance, are
likely to have recurring or long-term (chronic) -Pain in the forehead, above the eyebrow, may
sinus infections. Nasal polyps, foreign objects be caused by frontal sinus inflammation.
-Pain behind the eyes, on top of the head, or in Other conditions that have symptoms similar to
both temples may be caused by sphenoid sinus sinusitis may include allergies, toothaches, and
inflammation. colds or other upper respiratory infections. But if
you've had a cold that returns or gets worse
-Pain around or behind the eyes is caused by after 7 days (called double sickening), you
ethmoid sinus inflammation. probably have a sinus infection rather than a
cold or other upper respiratory infection.
Other common symptoms of sinusitis include:
-Yellow or greenish discharge from the nose or There are several ways you may reduce your
down the back of the throat. chance of getting sinusitis:
-Bad breath. -Treat stuffiness (nasal congestion) caused by
colds or allergies promptly. This can help you
-Stuffy nose. prevent a bacterial infection from developing in
-Cough that produces mucus. your sinuses.
-Fever. -Avoid contact with people who have colds and
other viral upper respiratory infections. If you do
-Tooth pain. have contact with people who have these
infections, wash your hands often, especially after
-Reduced sense of taste or smell. being in contact with those who are infected.
Acute (sudden) sinusitis is usually caused by a viral -Avoid cigarette, cigar, and pipe smoke in your
infection and often develops rapidly. It usually lasts home and workplace. Smoke causes and further
for 4 weeks or less, and the symptoms often begin irritates inflamed membranes in your nose and
to clear up within a week without any treatment. sinuses.
Acute sinusitis caused by a bacterial infection is
less likely to clear up on its own and may lead to -If you have allergies, avoid the things that trigger
chronic sinusitis or to complications in which the your allergy attacks. Consider talking to your
infection spreads beyond the sinuses. Nasal health professional about allergy shots
discharge that contains pus and worsens after 5 (immunotherapy). For more information, see the
days or persists for more than 10 days is usually a topic Allergic Rhinitis.
strong sign of acute sinusitis caused by a bacterial
infection. -Avoid breathing dry air. Consider using a
humidifier at home and work to increase the
Chronic (long-term) sinusitis is usually caused by a moisture in the air.
bacterial or fungal infection. These infections may
be difficult to treat. If chronic sinusitis is not cured How is sinusitis diagnosed?
after trying two or more different antibiotics, you
may want to talk with your health professional Your doctor can tell if you have sinusitis by
about surgery or allergy testing. Chronic sinusitis asking questions about your past health and
can lead to permanent changes in the mucous doing a physical exam. You probably won't
membranes that line the sinuses and may make need any other tests.
you more prone to sinus infections.
How is it treated?
Symptoms of sinusitis in children include
coughing, nasal discharge that lasts more than 7 Viral sinus infections usually go away on their
to 10 days, and complaints of headache and facial own within 10 to 14 days. Antibiotics don't
pain. Many children age 2 or older with chronic work for viral infections. But there are some
sinusitis may also have allergies and frequent ear things you can do at home to help relieve your
infections. Some immunizations, particularly symptoms:
pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) and
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), may help -Drink plenty of fluids.
prevent ear and sinus infections.
-Try over-the-counter pain relievers and
decongestant pills to help relieve the pain and
pressure in your head and face.
-Put a hot, damp towel or gel pack on your face
for 5 to 10 minutes at a time, several times a day.
-Breathe warm, moist air from a steamy shower, a
hot bath, or a sink filled with hot water.
-Use saltwater nose drops to help keep the nasal
passages open and wash out mucus and bacteria.
-Home treatments may help drain mucus from the
sinuses and prevent a more serious bacterial or
-Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics.
You will probably feel better in a few days, but
some symptoms may last for several weeks. You
may need to take the medicine for a longer time if
you have chronic sinusitis.
-If you have a fungal infection—which is not
common—antibiotics won't clear up your sinusitis.
With this type of infection, you may need
treatment with antifungal medicines, steroid
medicines, or surgery.
-If you have taken antibiotics and other medicines
for a long time but still have sinusitis symptoms,
you may need surgery. You may also need
surgery if the infection is likely to spread or if you
have other problems, such as a growth (polyp)
blocking the nasal passage.