Signs, Symptoms and Treatment of Sinusitis

Sinusitis symptoms
on Thu 24 Feb


You may wonder if you have sinusitis if you’ve had a cold and then feel pain or tenderness around your cheek, eyes or forehead as well as a continually blocked-up nose. Certainly, these are common symptoms and in this blog post I explain why this happens.


Your sinuses are small cavities within your skull which are interconnected. These are lined with soft tissue called mucosa and it is this which produces the thin and flowing liquid we call mucus.


Mucus not only lines the tissue in your lungs, nose, and throat to prevent them from drying out, it contains antibodies and enzymes which are designed to neutralise any harmful bacteria or viruses which you breathe in


However, certain conditions trigger an overproduction of this mucus which thickens when the mucosa become inflamed. Most commonly this is triggered by a virus after a cold or flu, but it can also be caused by


  • Hay fever or an allergy
  • Polyps in the nasal cavity
  • A dental infection
  • An autoimmune condition
  • Asthma
  • A deviated septum (when the central wall of your nasal cavity is over to one side)


Smoking also increases the risk of you getting sinusitis


Symptoms and types of Sinusitis

Apart from those described at the beginning of this post,  you may experience


  • A fever
  • Thick green or yellow nasal discharge
  • Toothache
  • Bad breath
  • No smell or a bad smell
  • Earache
  • Catarrh dripping down the back of your throat and a cough trying to clear this.


There are 3 different types of sinusitis.


Acute sinusitis – caused by a viral infection brought on by a cold or seasonal allergy and typically lasting 1-2 weeks. A bacterial infection may cause it to last up to 4 weeks


Subacute sinusitis is normally a bacterial infection which fails to clear up and lasts up to 3 months


Chronic sinusitis is often less severe but lasts for longer than 3 months and is usually caused by persistent allergies or a problematic nasal structure



Sinusitis in young children

Because our sinuses are not fully developed until we are teenagers, sinusitis may look different in a small child with swelling around the eyes. Other symptoms will be similar but specifically:


  • A cold which is going beyond 10 to 14 days
  • A low or even high fever
  • A green/yellow discharge which has been present for more than 3 days
  • Bad breath or nausea/sickness which has probably been causes by catarrh going down the back of the throat
  • A headache – normally in children of 6 plus
  • Being tired or irritable


How to treat sinusitis

A warm flannel applied to the areas of your face which feel tender can bring some relief from the sinus pressure. Ibuprofen will also help to reduce the inflammation and give you some pain relief.


You should also keep hydrated so that the mucus is thinned or use over the counter medication which does the same. Saline washes will also help.


Moist air is really beneficial so use a humidifier or inhale steam from a bowl or in a closed bathroom whilst you run a hot shower.


If your symptoms don’t clear up within a couple of weeks you will probably need antibiotics from your GP. If these don’t work by the end of the course your GP may need to send you to an ear, nose or throat specialist.


You should immediately go to Accident and Emergency if

  • You have swelling of the eyes
  • Your vision is being impacted
  • You have severe headaches
  • Your forehead is swollen


These are indications that the infection is spreading beyond your sinuses into your eyes or brain. Sinus complications are EXTREMELY rare, but left untreated they can lead to fatal Encephalitis or Meningitis.


I hope this has been helpful.


We make every effort to ensure that all health advice on this website is accurate and up to date. However it is for information purposes and should not replace a visit to your doctor or health care professional. As the advice is general in nature rather than specific to individuals we cannot accept any liability for actions arising from its use nor can we be held responsible for the content of any pages referenced by an external link.


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