Sinus Pain

Sinusitis (Sinus Infection)

Sinusitis is soreness and swelling (inflammation) of your sinuses. Sinuses are hollow spaces in the bones around your face. They are located:
• Around your eyes.
• In the middle of your forehead.
• Behind your nose.
• In your cheekbones.

Your sinuses and nasal passages are lined with a fluid called mucus. Mucus drains out of your sinuses. Swelling can trap mucus in your sinuses. This lets germs (bacteria, virus, or fungus) grow, which leads to infection. Most of the time, this condition is caused by a virus.

What are the causes?

This condition is caused by:
• Allergies.
• Asthma.
• Germs.
• Things that block your nose or sinuses.
• Growths in the nose (nasal polyps).
• Chemicals or irritants in the air.
• Fungus (rare).

What increases the risk?

You are more likely to develop this condition if:
• You have a weak body defense system (immune system).
• You do a lot of swimming or diving.
• You use nasal sprays too much.
• You smoke.

What are the signs or symptoms?

The main symptoms of this condition are pain and a feeling of pressure around the sinuses. Other symptoms include:
• Stuffy nose (congestion).
• Runny nose (drainage).
• Swelling and warmth in the sinuses.
• Headache.
• Toothache.
• A cough that may get worse at night.
• Mucus that collects in the throat or the back of the nose (postnasal drip).
• Being unable to smell and taste.
• Being very tired (fatigue).
• A fever.
• Sore throat.
• Bad breath.

How is this diagnosed?

This condition is diagnosed based on:
• Your symptoms.
• Your medical history.
• A physical exam.
• Tests to find out if your condition is short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic). Your doctor may:

o Check your nose for growths (polyps).
o Check your sinuses using a tool that has a light (endoscope).
o Check for allergies or germs.
o Do imaging tests, such as an MRI or CT scan.

How is this treated?

Treatment for this condition depends on the cause and whether it is short-term or long-term.

• If caused by a virus, your symptoms should go away on their own within 10 days. You may be given medicines to relieve symptoms. They include:

o Medicines that shrink swollen tissue in the nose.
o Medicines that treat allergies (antihistamines).
o A spray that treats swelling of the nostrils.
o Rinses that help get rid of thick mucus in your nose (nasal saline washes).

• If caused by bacteria, your doctor may wait to see if you will get better without treatment. You may be given antibiotic medicine if you have:

o A very bad infection.
o A weak body defense system.

• If caused by growths in the nose, you may need to have surgery.

Follow these instructions at home:

Medicines
• Take, use, or apply over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your doctor. These may include nasal sprays.
• If you were prescribed an antibiotic medicine, take it as told by your doctor. Do not stop taking the antibiotic even if you start to feel better.

Hydrate and humidify
• Drink enough water to keep your pee (urine) pale yellow.
• Use a cool mist humidifier to keep the humidity level in your home above 50%.
• Breathe in steam for 10 to 15 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day, or as told by your doctor. You can do this in the bathroom while a hot shower is running.
• Try not to spend time in cool or dry air.

Rest

• Rest as much as you can.
• Sleep with your head raised (elevated).
• Make sure you get enough sleep each night.

General instructions
• Put a warm, moist washcloth on your face 3 to 4 times a day, or as often as told by your doctor. This will help with discomfort.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If there is no soap and water, use hand sanitizer.
Do not smoke. Avoid being around people who are smoking (secondhand smoke).
• Keep all follow-up visits as told by your doctor. This is important.

Contact a doctor if:

• You have a fever.
• Your symptoms get worse.
• Your symptoms do not get better within 10 days.

Get help right away if:

• You have a very bad headache.
• You cannot stop throwing up (vomiting).
• You have very bad pain or swelling around your face or eyes.
• You have trouble seeing.
• You feel confused.
• Your neck is stiff.
• You have trouble breathing.


Summary

• Sinusitis is swelling of your sinuses. Sinuses are hollow spaces in the bones around your face.
• This condition is caused by tissues in your nose that become inflamed or swollen. This traps germs. These can lead to infection.
• If you were prescribed an antibiotic medicine, take it as told by your doctor. Do not stop taking it even if you start to feel better.
• Keep all follow-up visits as told by your doctor. This is important.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.


Document Released: 06/05/2009
Document Revised: 05/20/2019
Document Reviewed: 05/20/2019
Elsevier Interactive Patient Education © 2019 Elsevier Inc.

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