Acute sinusitis

Acute sinusitis (acute rhinosinusitis) causes the cavities around your nasal passages (sinuses) to become inflamed and swollen. This interferes with drainage and causes mucus to build up.

With acute sinusitis, it may be difficult to breathe through your nose. The area around your eyes and face may feel swollen, and you may have throbbing facial pain or a headache.

Acute sinusitis is most often caused by the common cold. Other triggers include allergies, bacterial and fungal infections. Treatment of acute sinusitis depends on the cause. In most cases, home remedies are all that's needed. However, persistent sinusitis can lead to serious infections and other complications. Sinusitis that lasts more than eight weeks or keeps coming back is called chronic sinusitis.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Acute sinusitis symptoms often include:

  • Drainage of a thick, yellow or greenish discharge from the nose or down the back of the throat
  • Nasal obstruction or congestion, causing difficulty breathing through your nose
  • Pain, tenderness, swelling and pressure around your eyes, cheeks, nose or forehead
  • Reduced sense of smell and taste
  • Cough, which may be worse at night

Other signs and symptoms can include:

  • Ear pain
  • Headache
  • Aching in your upper jaw and teeth
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Fatigue
  • Fever

When to see a doctor

If you have mild symptoms of sinusitis, try self-care.

Contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Symptoms that don't improve within a few days or symptoms that get worse
  • A persistent fever
  • A history of recurrent or chronic sinusitis

See a doctor immediately if you have signs or symptoms that may indicate a serious infection:

  • Pain or swelling around your eyes
  • Swollen forehead
  • Severe headache
  • Confusion
  • Double vision or other vision changes
  • Stiff neck
  • Shortness of breath

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