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Sinus Infection Symptoms

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Sinus Infection Symptoms

writtenByWritten by: Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer is a contributing health writer who has been researching and writing health content with PlushCare for 3 years. She is passionate about bringing accessible healthcare and mental health services to people everywhere.

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reviewBy Reviewed by: Dr. Katalin Karolyi
Reviewer

Dr. Katalin Karolyi

Katalin Karolyi, M.D. earned her medical degree at the University of Debrecen. After completing her residency program in pathology at the Kenezy Hospital, she obtained a postdoctoral position at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, Orlando, Florida.

March 30, 2021 Read Time - 5 minutes

Sinus Infection Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Does your nose feel clogged no matter how much you blow it? Are you experiencing unusual pain in your face? Have you recently suffered from allergies or an infection? You might be dealing with a sinus infection.

Let’s take a look at sinus infection symptoms, sinus infection causes, and treatment options.

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What is a Sinus Infection?

A sinus infection, also known as sinusitis, is the result of infection, swelling, and inflammation in your sinus cavities. 

You have many sinus cavities in your face, which is why symptoms may affect your eyes, ears, or teeth. Sinus infections are typically a side effect of another illness (usually caused by a virus, like a cold or the flu) or allergies.

Sinus Infection Causes

Sinusitis is caused by an inflammation or swelling of the tissue lining your sinuses. Common sinus infection causes include:

  • The common cold
  • Allergic rhinitis (the swelling of the nasal lining due to allergies)
  • Nasal polyps (small growths in the lining of the nose)
  • A weakened immune system
  • Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke

“Asthma also has been linked to chronic sinus infections,” according to the American College of Allergies, Asthma and Immunology. “Some people with a chronic nasal inflammation and irritation and/or asthma can develop a type of chronic sinusitis that is not caused by infection. Appropriate treatment of sinus infection often improves asthma symptoms.”

Are Sinus Infections Contagious?

Sinus infections themselves are generally not contagious, although the illness that caused the sinus infection, such as the cold or flu, may be contagious. That illness may not cause a sinus infection in the other person, so the sinus infection itself is not technically contagious.

What Does Sinusitis Feel Like?

Sinus infections are associated with a variety of symptoms that can make you feel miserable. Common sinus infection symptoms include:

  • Facial tenderness or pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Sore throat and hoarse voice
  • Cough and throat irritation
  • Facial swelling
  • Nasal discharge, which may be clear, whitish, cloudy, green, yellow, or pus-like
  • Bad breath
  • Sinus headache
  • Pain or pressure in the eyes, ears, teeth, or other sinus cavities
  • Feeling of nasal stuffiness despite blowing nose often
  • Post-nasal drip

Can a Sinus Infection Cause Fever?

Yes, a sinus infection can cause fever. Although fever is not a common symptom of sinusitis, some people will experience fevers as a result of a sinus infection.

If you’re experiencing a fever, you may have the common cold or the flu, which have similar symptoms and are often associated with fever. In rare cases, a fever could be a sign of an underlying condition, such as a brain infection.

Can a Sinus Infection Cause Dizziness?

Yes, in rare cases a sinus infection can cause dizziness. If you’re experiencing vertigo, see a doctor for sinus infection treatment, as this may be a sign that your infection is more advanced or you have an underlying condition, like a bad tooth.

How Long Does a Sinus Infection Last?

The duration of your sinus infection will depend on the type of sinus infection you’re experiencing. While acute sinusitis typically lasts less than 4 weeks, chronic sinusitis can last for more than 12 weeks.

In most cases, sinus infection symptoms will show improvement within 10 days. If you’re experiencing recurring sinus infections or chronic sinusitis lasting more than 3 months, talk to your doctor about treatment options.

Do Sinus Infections Go Away on Their Own?

Sinus infections typically go away on their own within 10 days.

Over-the-counter sinus infection medicine and at-home remedies can help you manage your sinus infection symptoms. If your symptoms last for more than 10 days, contact your doctor.

Sinus Infection Medicine

Since sinus infections are typically a short-term side effect of a viral infection, a doctor visit and antibiotics are typically not required. Instead, try these over-the-counter sinus infection treatments and home remedies for a few days first.

  • Nasal decongestant sprays such as oxymetazoline can help relieve symptoms but should not be used for longer than 3 days due to the risk of rebound side effects.
  • Over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants such as Allegra, Claritin, Sudafed, and Zyrtec work especially well for sinus infections caused by allergies. These medicines should not be taken by people who suffer from high blood pressure, prostate issues, glaucoma, or sleep difficulties without talking to a doctor first.
  • Nasal irrigation with sterile saline mixtures can help clear out mucus and make it easier to breathe.
  • Steroid nasal sprays such as fluticasone and triamcinolone are available over-the-counter and can help relieve the symptoms of long-term (chronic) sinusitis.

Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics for a sinus infection that doesn’t clear up on its own, but antibiotics are only effective against sinus infections caused by bacteria. 

Since most sinus infections are the result of viruses, allergies, or other causes, antibiotics typically are not useful in the fight against sinus infection. Amoxicillin is one choice of antibiotic that your doctor may choose to prescribe if you sinus infection won’t go away.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

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Get Sinus Infection Treatment Online

Sinus infection symptoms can make you feel miserable, but we have good news: you don’t need to visit your doctor’s office to get sinus infection treatment. When you schedule a virtual appointment with PlushCare, our online doctors will review your symptoms, provide a diagnosis, and get you started on the right treatment.

Think you may be suffering from a sinus infection? Book an appointment with a PlushCare physician and get a prescription today!


Read More About Sinus Infections


Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Sinus Infection. Accessed on March 19, 2021 at https://acaai.org/allergies/types/sinus-infection

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sinus Infection (Sinusitis). Accessed on March 19, 2021 at https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/community/for-patients/common-illnesses/sinus-infection.html

Cleveland Clinic. Sinus Infection (Sinusitis). Accessed on March 19, 2021 at https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17701-sinusitis 

U.S. National Library of Medicine. Case reports in dentistry. Recovering of Dizziness of a Patient with Sinusitis after Root Canal Therapy for Upper Second Molar. Accessed on March 28, 2021 at
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6942740/

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