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What is sinusitis?

Sinusitis is a condition that can cause a stuffy nose, pain in the face, and discharge (mucus) from the nose. The sinuses are hollow areas in the bones of the face. They have a thin lining that normally makes a small amount of mucus. When this lining gets irritated or infected, it swells and makes extra mucus. This causes symptoms.

Sinusitis can occur when a person gets sick with a cold. The germs causing the cold can also infect the sinuses. Many times, a person feels like his or her cold is getting better. But then he or she gets sinusitis and begins to feel sick again.


What are the symptoms of sinusitis?

Common symptoms of sinusitis include:

Stuffy or blocked nose

Thick white, yellow, or green discharge from the nose

Pain in the teeth

Pain or pressure in the face – This often feels worse when a person bends forward.

People with sinusitis can also have other symptoms that include:



Trouble smelling

Ear pressure or fullness


Bad breath

Feeling tired

Most of the time, symptoms start to improve in 7 to 10 days.

Should I see a doctor or nurse?

See your doctor or nurse if your symptoms last more than 10 days, or if your symptoms get better at first but then get worse.

Sometimes, sinusitis can lead to serious problems. See your doctor or nurse right away (do not wait 10 days) if you have:

Fever higher than 102°F (38.9°C)

Sudden and severe pain in the face and head

Trouble seeing or seeing double

Trouble thinking clearly

Swelling or redness around one or both eyes

A stiff neck


How is sinusitis treated?

Most of the time, sinusitis does not need to be treated with antibiotic medicines. This is because most sinusitis is caused by viruses – not bacteria – and antibiotics do not kill viruses. Many people get over sinus infections without antibiotics.

Some people with sinusitis do need treatment with antibiotics. If your symptoms have not improved after 10 days, ask your doctor if you should take antibiotics. Your doctor might recommend that you wait 1 more week to see if your symptoms improve. But if you have symptoms such as a fever or a lot of pain, he or she might prescribe antibiotics. It is important to follow your doctor's instructions about taking your antibiotics.

ReferenceThis topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Mar 12, 2020.

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