Sinus Infection (Sinusitis): Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Sinus infection is characterized by an infection of the lining tissues of the sinuses within the skull. The resulting inflammation leads to blockage of the openings that allow drainage of fluid from the sinus. Early symptoms and signs of a sinus infection are often related to the respiratory infection (such as a cold) that led to the inflammation of the sinus tissues. Symptoms can include pain or pressure sensations over the involved areas of the face along with facial tenderness and swelling. Stuffy nose, or nasal congestion, can occur as well as drainage or discharge from the nose. Cough may be present, and sometimes patients have fever.

Other symptoms can include earache, pain in the jaw or teeth, nausea, sore throat, and a decrease in the sense of smell. Discharge (postnasal drip) may be present in the back of the throat that produces cough and bad breath. Sneezing, an unpleasant taste in the mouth, visual disturbances, and a feeling of fullness in the ears can accompany a sinus infection.

Sinus infection causes

A sinus infection occurs when the sinuses become blocked and fluid is unable to drain from the sinuses. In this environment, bacteria or viruses (rarely, fungi) can proliferate and cause an infection. Conditions that can cause sinus blockage and lead to sinus infection include the common cold, nasal polyps, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), or a deviated nasal septum.

Related Symptoms & Signs

Other sinus infection (sinusitis) symptoms and signs

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Brook, Itzhak. "Chronic Sinusitis." June 19, 2015. <>.