What are the symptoms of a sinus infection?

A sinus infection - also known as sinusitis or rhinosinusitis - affects the nasal cavities and can be uncomfortable. For most people it will be a short-term condition that may be the result of a virus, bacteria or in some rare cases a fungus. Most sinus infections should clear up on their own within a couple of weeks though a course of antibiotics is sometimes necessary. So, how do you know if you’ve got a sinus infection?

  • Sinus pain. This is probably the most common symptom of a sinus infection. Nasal cavities have become infected, swollen and inflamed and this can cause a lot of discomfort around your face. The pain is often described as a dull ache and can be felt across the forehead, on either side of the nose, between the eyes and in the upper jaws and teeth. The overall impact can feel like swelling and tightness across the face, as well as a painful headache.
  • Discharge. Another major symptom of a sinus infection is nasal discharge that could be green, yellow or cloudy in colour. This discharge is coming from your infected sinuses and will usually drain away down your throat, which can cause a slight itching sensation known as a post nasal drip. As a result of the nasal discharge you may feel that you need to blow your nose more often.
  • A feeling of congestion. Swelling happens throughout the nasal passages and sinuses when you have this type of infection and this can make you feel very congested. You may find that you can’t taste or smell like you normally would and your voice may sound distant and different.
  • Headaches, especially in the morning. Headaches created by a sinus infection are often worse in the morning as the fluids that are generated by the infection have been building up all night. This type of headache will also suddenly get worse if the barometric pressure around you changes. The pressure and swelling in your sinuses when you are suffering like this can also make you feel like you have pain in your jaws and teeth, cheeks and ears.
  • Problems with your throat. The nasal discharge that comes with a sinus infection may severely irritate your throat. As it drains down the back of your throat it can make you cough. This is often much worse at night because you’re horizontal. This dripping discharge can really irritate your throat and, combined with the resulting cough can leave your throat feeling sore and raw.

Although a sinus infection is uncomfortable it will often clear up on its own if you are able to rest and give your body time to recover. However, if you are suffering from all of the above as well as a fever and/or you have symptoms that last for longer than 10 days then you may need to go and see your doctor. There are a number of ways you can soothe a sinus infection yourself (e.g. nasal sprays) or the doctor may prescribe antibiotics.


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The Harley Street ENT clinic in London can provide all of the care that you need when you have an ear, nose, throat or balance problem. We ensure that you can get all of the right tests, treatments and advice in one convenient place.