ACUTE SINUSITIS - Watsons Health


The sinuses are a connected system of hollow cavities in the skull. The largest, the maxillary sinuses, are about an inch across and are located in your cheekbones. Your frontal sinuses are located in low-center of your forehead. Your ethmoid sinuses are found between your eyes, while your sphenoid sinuses are located in bones behind your nose.

The sinuses are lined with soft, pink tissue called mucosa. Normally, the sinuses are empty except for a thin layer of mucus. The exact function of sinuses remains unclear.

Experts believe they help humidify the air we breathe in and enhance our voices.

Acute sinusitis develops when the sinuses to become inflamed and swollen, interfering with drainage and causing mucus to build up. A viral infection, such as the common cold, is often the cause; in some cases, a bacterial infection develops.

Common symptoms include:

  • Drainage of a thick, yellow or greenish discharge from the nose or down the back of the throat (postnasal drainage)
  • Nasal obstruction or congestion, causing difficulty breathing through your nose
  • Pain, tenderness, swelling and pressure around your eyes, cheeks, nose or forehead that worsens when you bend over

Other signs and symptoms can include:

  • Ear pressure
  • Headache
  • Aching in your upper jaw and teeth
  • Reduced sense of smell and taste
  • Cough, which might be worse at night
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Fatigue
  • Fever


Your doctor will perform a physical exam by feeling for tenderness in your nose and face and looking inside your nose. If he suspects that allergies triggered your acute sinusitis, he may recommend an allergy skin test.



Your doctor may recommend the following treatments to help relieve symptoms:

  • Saline nasal spray – spray into your nose several times a day to relieve stuffiness.
  • Nasal corticosteroids – to help prevent and treat inflammation.
  • Decongestants – to relieve stuffy nose
  • Pain relievers – such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if you have bacterial sinusitis that does not resolve or worsens after a few days.

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