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Sinus Infection

Sinus infections (sinusitis) are caused by inflamed or infected sinuses. Most cases are preceded by an occurrence of the common cold virus, which inflames the sinuses and causes symptoms of a sinus infection. The inflammation caused by the cold virus results in swelling of the mucus membranes, which traps mucus and air behind the narrow openings of the sinuses. During the common cold, the typically harmless bacteria residing in the nose and throat may enter the sinuses through changes in pressure caused by the act of sniffling and blowing your nose. When mucus remains trapped and unable to drain from behind the sinuses into the nose, it provides an ample source of nutrients for these normally innocuous bacteria, thus leading to sinusitis. Health professionals typically group sinusitis cases into:

  • Acute cases, which last for 4 weeks or less

  • Subacute cases, which last 4 to 12 weeks

  • Chronic cases, which last more than 12 weeks and can continue for months or even years

  • Recurrent cases, which involve several acute attacks within a year




  • Stuffy nose, a loss of smell, and tenderness when you touch the sides of your nose

  • Pain in the forehead over the frontal sinuses when touched

  • Upper jaw and teeth ache, or cheeks are tender to the touch

  • Pain around the eyelids or upper eyes

  • Earaches, neck pain, and deep achiness at the top of your head



Who is at risk?

  • Those who are afflicted with the common cold virus

  • People with acute or chronic allergies that cause stuffiness and poor sinus drainage

  • Those with asthma have been shown to be at very high risk for chronic sinusitis



Treatment of Condition

  • Antibiotics to control a bacterial infection, if present

  • Pain relievers to reduce any pain

  • Decongestants to reduce congestion

  • In chronic or recurrent cases, surgery to aid sinus drainage may be necessary



When should I see a doctor?

If over-the-counter medicines used to relieve symptoms of the common cold prove to be ineffective and pain and stuffiness persist for more than three days, seek medical attention. 

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