The hollow airspaces around the bones in you face are called your sinuses. A sinus infection occurs when the sinuses become blocked and fluid is unable to drain from the sinuses – when this occurs bacteria or viruses (rarely, fungi) will cause the infection.
Conditions known to cause sinus blockage and lead to sinus infection can range from the common cold, nasal polyps, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), to a deviated nasal septum.
Note however, that occasionally swelling in your sinuses from allergies can often mimic the symptoms. At best sinusitis can be bothersome, at worst it can be very painful.
There are several types of sinusitis, including:
- Acute, which lasts up to 4 weeks
- Subacute, which lasts 4 to 12 weeks
- Chronic, which lasts more than 12 weeks and can continue for months or even years
- Recurrent, with several attacks within a year
Acute sinusitis often starts as a cold, which then turns into a bacterial infection. Allergies, nasal problems, and certain diseases can also cause acute and chronic sinusitis.
Drainage from the nose often changes from a clear color to a thicker, yellowish-green. There may be fever. Headache and pain over the affected sinuses may occur, as well as a feeling of pressure, which may worsen when the patient bends over. There may be pain in the jaw or teeth. Some children can get an upset stomach from the infected drainage going down the back of their throats into their stomachs. Some patients also develop a cough.
Sinus Infection Signs & Symptoms
Symptoms of a sinus infection can include
- pain or pressure sensations over the involved areas of the face along with tenderness and swelling,
- stuffy nose, or nasal congestion,
- drainage or discharge from the nose,
- pain in the jaw or teeth,
- and nausea.
Diagnosis is sometimes tricky, because the symptoms so often resemble those of an uncomplicated cold. However, sinusitis should be strongly suspected when a cold lingers beyond about a week’s time.
If you suspect allergies or a cold have turned into an infection, stop by and see us to be sure.