Symptoms and Signs of Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 11/12/2021

Doctor's Notes on Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)

A sinus infection is an infection of the sinus infection is inflammation of the hollow air cavities (sinuses) within the skull that are connected to the nasal passages. A sinus infection may be acute (coming on suddenly) or may be chronic, meaning it persists over the long term. Viruses that cause common colds may also cause inflamed sinuses, and bacterial infections are also causes of sinusitis. Rarely, fungal infections may cause the condition.

Symptoms and signs of a sinus infection include:

  • a headache that may worsen when bending down,
  • feelings of pressure or pain in the sinuses, and
  • swelling or tenderness of the face.

Other associated symptoms can include:

What Is the Treatment for Sinus Infection?

Treatment for a sinus infection depends on whether it is an acute or chronic infection:

  • Acute sinusitis is usually caused by a virus and treated with measures to control symptoms, such as:
    • medications to control pain and fever,
    • nasal decongestants, and
    • nasal saline rinses.
  • Chronic sinusitis may require antibiotics if a bacterial infection is present. Nasal inhaled steroid preparations may be useful for some people to manage inflammation of the upper airways.
  • Sinusitis that is due to allergic reactions may be treated with antihistamine medications. 

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.