Sinus infection symptoms can be acute or chronic

Sinus infection symptoms stem from an inflammation of the sinuses. This is generally caused by a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection.

The sinuses are air-filled spaces around the forehead, cheeks, and eyes that are lined with mucous membranes. Healthy sinuses are sterile (meaning that they contain no bacteria or other organisms) and open, allowing mucus to drain and air to circulate.

When inflamed, the sinuses become blocked with mucus and can become infected. Each year, over 30 million adults and children get sinusitis.

Sinusitis can be acute (lasting anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks) or chronic, with symptoms lingering much longer.

Causes of sinus infection symptoms

Sinusitis can occur from one of these conditions:

  • The small openings (ostia) from the sinuses to the nose become blocked
  • Small hairs (cilia) in the sinuses, which help move the normally produced mucous out, are not working properly
  • Too much mucous is produced
  • When the sinus openings become blocked and mucous accumulates, this becomes a great breeding ground for bacteria and

    other organisms

Sinus infection symptoms usually follow respiratory infections, such as colds, or an allergic reaction. Some people never get sinusitis, and others develop sinusitis frequently. People more likely to get frequent sinusitis include those with cystic fibrosis or a weakened immune system (such as people with HIV and those receiving chemotherapy).

Cystic fibrosis is one of a number of diseases that prevent the cilia from working properly. Other such diseases that put you at increased risk for sinusitis include Kartagener's syndrome and immotile cilia syndrome.

Sinus Infection Symptoms

The classic sinus infection symptoms usually follow a cold that does not improve, or one that worsens after 5 to 7 days of symptoms. They include:

  • Nasal congestion and discharge
  • Sore throat and postnasal drip (fluid dripping down the back of your throat, especially at night or when lying down)
  • Headache -- pressure-like pain, pain behind the eyes, toothache, or facial tenderness
  • Cough, often worse at night
  • Fever (may be present)
  • Bad breath or loss of smell
  • Fatigue and generally not feeling well

Symptoms of chronic sinusitis are the same as acute sinusitis, but tend to be milder and last longer than 8 weeks.If you have chronic or recurrent sinus infection symptoms, further laboratory evaluation may be necessary to look for an underlying disorder. This may involve sweat chloride tests for cystic fibrosis, ciliary function tests, blood tests for HIV or other tests for immunodeficiency, allergy testing, or nasal cytology (checking the cells in the nasal secretions).

Treatment for sinus infection symptoms

Try the following measures to help reduce congestion in your sinuses:

  • Use a humidifier.
  • Spray with nasal saline several times per day.
  • Inhale steam 2 to 4 times per day (for example, sitting in the bathroom with the shower running).
  • Drink plenty of fluids to thin the mucus.
  • Apply a warm, moist wash cloth to your face several times per day.

Be careful with over-the-counter spray nasal decongestants. They can help initially, but using them beyond 3-5 days can actually worsen nasal congestion.

Sinus infection symptoms are usually curable with self-care measures and medical treatment. If you are having recurrent attacks, you should be evaluated for underlying causes (such as nasal polyps or another structural problem).

Prevention of sinus infection symptoms

The best way to prevent sinusitis is to avoid or quickly treat flus and colds:

  • Receive an influenza vaccine each year.
  • Wash your hands frequently, particularly after shaking hands with others.
  • Follow a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants.
  • Boost your immune system and help your body resist infection with appropriate supplements.
  • Reduce stress.

Our suggestion for an appropriate supplement to boost your immune system and reduce the risk of sinus infection symptoms.


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