Symptoms of sinusitis and remedies

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the mucous membranes lining the paranasal sinuses and is caused by a viral or bacterial infection.

The paranasal sinuses are small air-filled cavities behind the cheekbones and forehead.

As a rule, sinusitis causes fever, pain, numbness in the face and a stuffy or runny nose.

This is a common condition and can affect people of all ages, especially children.


There are several forms of sinusitis, including:

  • Acute sinusitis: sudden onset of flu-like symptoms such as runny nose, nasal congestion and facial pain that pass after 10-14 days. Usually, acute sinusitis lasts less than a month.
  • Subacute sinusitis: inflammation lasting one or two months.
  • Chronic sinusitis: a condition characterized by symptoms of inflammation of the sinuses that persists for more than two months.
  • Recurrent sinusitis: several attacks over the course of a year.

What is sinus infection?

An infection of the paranasal sinuses occurs when pathogenic microorganisms (viruses, bacteria or fungi) grow inside a sinus and lead to congestion.

The paranasal sinuses are used to control the temperature and humidity of the air that reaches the lungs.
Usually, the mucus secreted in the sinuses flows through small channels into the nose. These channels are narrowed when the sinuses are infected and inflamed. The sinuses behind the cheeks (these are the largest) are most commonly affected.
The mucus that accumulates in the sinuses usually drains through the nasal passages.
If a cold or allergy occurs, the sinuses become inflamed and the mucus cannot drain.
This can lead to congestion and infection.
The doctor can diagnose acute sinusitis if there is a congestion of purulent secretions accompanied by nasal congestion, facial pain or a feeling of pressure for up to 4 weeks.
It is likely that the infection of the sinuses is of bacterial origin if it persists for more than 10 days or if the symptoms worsen again after initial improvement.

Who suffers from sinusitis?

About 35 million Americans experience sinusitis at least once each year.
People with the following ailments have an increased risk of sinusitis:

  • Swollen nasal mucosa after a cold,
  • blockage of drainage channels,
  • structural differences that narrow the drainage ducts,
  • nasal polyps,
  • Disorders that mean an increased risk of infection, such as a deficit of the immune system or taking medications that suppress the immune system.

In children, factors from the environment that contribute to the development of sinusitis are: allergies, diseases transmitted by other children at school, pacifiers, drinking while lying down in a supine position and smoky air.

In adults, the most common risk factors are infections and tobacco smoke.

Causes of sinusitis

With sinusitis, the mucous membranes of the nose, paranasal sinuses and throat (respiratory tract) are inflamed.
The swelling narrows the openings of the sinuses and prevents the outflow of mucus, which leads to pain in the face and other symptoms of sinusitis.
The blocked sinuses create a moist environment, which promotes infection.
Inflamed sinuses do not allow mucus to drain, fill with pus, and thus cause symptoms such as the secretion of viscous, yellow or green mucus and other symptoms of infection
Acute sinusitis can be caused by:

  • Most cases of acute sinusitis are caused by colds.
  • Bacterial infection. If an upper respiratory tract infection persists for more than seven days, the most likely cause is a bacterial infection.
  • In case of malformed sinuses or weakening of the immune system, there is a risk of a fungal infection.

Some conditions can increase the risk of sinusitis:

  • Allergy such as allergic rhinitis. The inflammation that occurs with an allergy can close the sinuses.
  • Nasal polyps or tumors. These formations can narrow nasal passages and sinuses.
  • A deformed septum (nasal septum) can constrict or block the sinuses.
  • Some cases of acute sinusitis are caused by a dental infection.
  • Pregnancy is a risk factor because it leads to water retention and thus possibly swelling of the nasal mucosa.
  • In summer, an air conditioner can cause repeated sinusitis.
  • Infected and swollen polyps in children. Nasal polyps are located in the upper and posterior pharynx.

Other diseases: Complications of cystic fibrosis, reflux oesophagitis or weakness of the immune system can lead to narrowing of the sinuses or increase the risk of infection.

Symptoms of sinusitis

The classic symptoms of acute sinusitis in adults are:

  • bad breath or loss of sense of smell;
  • cough, which often worsens at night;
  • fatigue and general malaise;
  • Fever;
  • headache, pressure-like pain, discomfort behind the right or left eye, toothache or numbness of the face, especially behind the forehead;
  • secretions, nasal congestion and increased lacrimation;
  • sore throat and dripping nose;
  • dizziness (when blowing your nose);
  • If the infection passes to the inner ear, it can cause labyrinthitis, otitis, blocked ears, hearing loss and dizziness.

The symptoms of chronic sinusitis are the same as in acute, but are less intense and can last for more than 12 weeks.

Symptoms of sinusitis in children include:

  • Difficulty breathing or a cold that improves and worsens.
  • High fever and at the same time dark secretions from the nose for at least 3 days.
  • Runny nose with and without cough that lasts more than 10 days and does not improve.

Typically, the doctor diagnoses sinusitis by tracing the medical history and performing a physical exam.
Sinusitis is almost always caused by a viral infection such as a common cold or influenza and the diagnosis is made due to:

  • narrowing of the nasal passages or rhinorrhea (runny nose) with facial pain;
  • Reduction or loss of the sense of smell.

In chronic sinusitis, the loss of the sense of smell occurs most often, while facial pain is less common.

Localization of pain points by type of sinusitis:

  • Sinusitis of the maxillary sinus causes pain in the jaw, teeth and forehead.
  • Sinusitis of the frontal sinus hurts only in the forehead area; it can occur unilaterally (only above one nostril) or bilaterally.
  • Sinusitis of the screen bone causes pain behind the eyes.
  • Sinusitis of the sphenoid bone causes diffuse pain in the forehead or neck.

Referral to a specialist
If the sinusitis is severe or recurs again and again, the family doctor can refer to a specialist for ears, nose and throat, ie to an otolaryngologist, who will carry out examinations to determine the causes of the disease.

Differential diagnosis in sinusitis

The doctor must exclude:

  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Cluster headache
  • Muscle tension headache
  • Influenza
  • Migraine
  • Mucormycosis
  • Otitis media
  • Parainfluenza virus
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Rhinovirus
  • Staphylococcal infection

Device diagnostics for sinusitis
Transnasal endoscopy. Through the nose, a fine and flexible glass fiber tube (endoscope) is inserted with a light that allows the doctor to inspect the internal sinuses.

Allergy tests. If the doctor suspects that the condition was caused by an allergy, he may recommend a skin test. A skin test is safe and fast and can help pinpoint the allergen responsible for nasal inflammation.

The doctor may recommend an X-ray or CT scan to find out the cause of sinusitis.

Drug therapy for sinusitis

Acute sinusitis. In the case of simple inflammation of the sinuses, the doctor may recommend treatment with decongestants, such as inhalation with Sudafed or steam.
Using over-the-counter and decongestant medications in the form of drops or sprays can effectively help relieve symptoms. However, these remedies must not be used beyond the recommended dose. As a rule, this is four or five days, otherwise the secretion congestion can be aggravated.

If antibiotics are indicated, they are usually prescribed for 10-15 days.
If the treatment is carried out, the symptoms usually disappear. Then the antibiotics are no longer needed.

Chronic sinusitis. Warm and moist air can improve congestion in the sinuses.
An inhaler or steam inhalation over a pot of boiling water can help relieve symptoms.
Hot packs are helpful in reducing pain in the nose and sinuses.
Drops of physiological saline solution in the nose are a safe remedy for home use.
Administration of over-the-counter decongestant drops or sprays may be effective in reducing symptoms, but they must not be used in a higher dose than recommended.
Antibiotics or corticosteroids (for example, Betnesol) for oral use must be prescribed by the doctor.

Other treatment options for sinusitis:
The first basic step in treating sinusitis is to avoid the factors that cause it.
To reduce secretion congestion, which leads to sinusitis, the doctor may prescribe a nasal spray (some sprays may contain cortisone).
If one suffers from severe chronic sinusitis, the doctor may prescribe tablets or powders with cortisone to reduce inflammation. However, these drugs should only be taken if other pharmaceuticals have not corrected the inflammation.
If it is a bacterial infection of the sinuses, the doctor recommends antibiotics (antibiotics are ineffective in viral infections).
For example, the antibiotic azithromycin (Zithromax) is used.
An antihistamine is prescribed to treat an allergy.
The doctor recommends an antifungal drug for a fungal infection of the sinuses.
Immunoglobulins (antibodies) may be recommended in the absence of immune protection.

In case of problems with the ears or sinusitis, air travel should not be undertaken because injuries can be caused by the differences in pressure.

Rarely, the doctor advises the patient to undergo surgical intervention, only if the other therapies have not shown the desired effect.
Among the options are an ethmoidectomy (in case of inflammation of the ethmoid cells), septoplasty with turbinoplasty in case of curvature of the nasal septum or enlargement of the nasal turbinates.

Natural remedies

Thermal cures are a good alternative to drug treatment, for example: nasal rinsing with thermal water and thermal aerosol or inhalations with thermal gases.
Among the most common remedies is changing the diet, which improves the functioning of the body.
One should refrain from fried foods, animal protein and cooking foods (except legumes and cereals), because our body is not made for these foods.
Man should eat mainly fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts and cereals.

You can try to reduce the secretion congestion in the sinuses with the following measures:

  • Place a hot and humid envelope on your face several times a day.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to dilute the mucus.
  • Steam inhalation three or four times a day.
  • Spray a saline spray into the nose several times a day.
  • Use a nebulizer for sinusitis or an aerosol.
  • Use a “nasal rinsing jug” to empty the sinuses.
  • Perform nasal rinses with salt water.

You have to be careful with decongestant nasal sprays. They can help at first, but if they are used for more than 3-5 days, the nasal narrowing can be made worse.

Other remedies for sinusitis:
Avoid air travel if the sinuses are narrowed.
Avoid extreme temperatures, sudden temperature changes and head bends forward and down.
You can try paracetamol (for example ben-u-ron) or ibuprofen (for example Dolormin).

How long does sinusitis last? Healing time

Usually, an infection of the sinuses heals through self-treatment and medication. In case of repetitive attacks, a medical check should be carried out to rule out causes such as nasal polyps, allergies, etc.
Acute sinusitis usually has a maximum duration of two weeks, but it can become chronic and in this case the time of recovery is prolonged and you can suffer from it again and again for many years.
If acute sinusitis is not cured, this can also lead to serious consequences. Even though this happens very rarely, the complications are:

  • Abscesses
  • Bone infection (osteomyelitis)
  • Meningitis
  • Skin infections around the eye (periorbital cellulitis)

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