What Are the 5 Main Symptoms of Sinusitis?

Medically Reviewed on 3/4/2022
What Are the 5 Main Symptoms of Sinusitis
Common symptoms of sinusitis include runny or stuffy nose, postnasal drip, headache, facial pain and swelling, and reduced sense of smell or taste

The most common symptoms of sinusitis include:

  1. Runny nose: Discharge will typically be thick and discolored
  2. Stuffy nose: May cause difficulty breathing
  3. Postnasal drip: Mucus that drips from the nose to the back of the throat
  4. Headache: May worsen when you bend forward
  5. Facial pain and swelling: Affected areas may include around your eyes, cheeks, nose, or forehead

Other signs and symptoms may include:

Acute sinusitis symptoms typically last for less than 4 weeks, while chronic sinusitis symptoms may persist for longer than 12 weeks.

What causes sinusitis?

Sinusitis occurs when your sinuses become inflamed due to viruses, bacteria, or fungi. In most cases, sinusitis is caused by viral infection, which usually clears up within 10-14 days.

Your sinuses are located behind the forehead, cheeks, nasal bones, and eyes. When there is blockage in the flow of air due to trapped mucus in the sinuses, microbes can begin to grow and lead to sinusitis.

Factors that increase your risk of sinusitis include:

  • Deviated nasal septum (tilting of the partition between the nostrils toward one side)
  • Nasal polyp (tissue growth inside the nose)
  • Allergic rhinitis (nasal inflammation caused by allergens such as pollen, mold, smoke, and pollution)
  • Large adenoids (a mass of soft tissue behind the nasal cavity)
  • Cystic fibrosis (a genetic disorder that causes buildup of thick, sticky mucus)
  • Foreign objects trapped inside the nose
  • Smoking
  • Nose injury
  • Diving
  • Swimming

What is the fastest way to get rid of sinusitis?

In many cases, the fastest way to get rid of sinusitis symptoms involves a combination of:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Applying hot towel on your face for 5-10 minutes at a time 4-5 times a day
  • Inhaling steam by taking a hot shower or bath or filling a sink with hot water
  • Using saline nasal drops, which can help loosen trapped mucus
  • Taking over-the-counter medications such as nasal decongestants to help relieve pain and pressure in your head and face

With the above home remedies, you should start to feel better within 14 days. However, if your sinusitis is due to a bacterial or fungal infection, it may take longer to resolve without antibiotics or antifungal medications.

If you have persistent sinus issues, your doctor may recommend surgery to open blocked sinuses or create a wider sinus opening.

When to call a doctor about sinusitis

Call your doctor if you experience the following:

  • Symptoms that worsen even after 7 days of home remedies or medications
  • Symptoms that last longer than 7-14 days
  • Severe headache that is not relieved by painkillers
  • Fever
  • Vision changes


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Medically Reviewed on 3/4/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Acute Sinusitis. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/232670-overview

Chronic Sinusitis. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/232791-overview