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Sinus Infection (Sinusitis): Causes & Symptoms

Sinus Infection (Sinusitis): Causes & Symptoms

Jan. 14th, 2022

Sinusitis, also known as a sinus infection, is a common infection that affects approximately 35 million Americans at least once a year.1 There are multiple causes when it comes to sinus infections, including colds and allergies.

Here are the most common causes, symptoms, and treatment for sinusitis.

What Causes Sinusitis?

Sinusitis occurs when there is fluid buildup in the sinuses, which causes bacteria to grow.2 The bacteria or virus infects the sinuses, which are the air-filled pockets that are in the face, and causes a sinus infection.

Sinus infections typically have a direct cause. Here are the risk factors that contribute to an individual developing sinusitis:

  • A cold
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Smoking
  • Growths on the nose lining or sinuses
  • A weak immune system
  • Medications that suppress the immune system
  • Blocked drainage ducts3

For children, the causes of a sinus infection might be slightly different due to the fact that they can come in contact with bacteria in different ways. There are multiple factors that put children at risk for developing sinusitis:

  • Allergies
  • Illnesses from other kids
  • Pacifiers
  • Bottle drinking while lying on the back
  • Smoke in the air1

Symptoms of Sinusitis

Sinus infections and their severity can range from acute to chronic. The symptoms for each can vary depending on the severity of the sinus infection.

Symptoms of Acute Sinusitis

Acute sinusitis is a short-term sinus infection that causes the sinuses to become swollen, blocked with fluid, and infected.4 Acute sinusitis can last anywhere from 10 days to four weeks.

Some of the symptoms of acute sinusitis include:

  • Tenderness on the face
  • Stuffy nose
  • Yellow or green discharge from the nose
  • Congestion5

Symptoms of Chronic Sinusitis

Chronic sinusitis is when the sinuses, or the spaces inside the nose and head, are swollen and inflamed for longer than three months.6

Some of the symptoms of chronic sinusitis include:

  • Thick and discolored discharge from the nose
  • Drainage down the back of the throat
  • Congested, stuffy nose that causes difficulty breathing through the nose
  • Tenderness and swelling around the eyes, nose, and cheeks
  • Reduced sense of taste and smell
  • Ear pain
  • Sore throat
  • Headache7

Treatment for Sinusitis

If you suspect you or a loved one has a sinus infection, be sure to see a doctor to receive a diagnosis and proper treatment. A doctor can diagnose sinusitis by examining the throat, nose, and sinuses. You can see your general practitioner or you can visit an allergist.

There are a few different forms of treatment when it comes to sinus infections, depending on the severity and longevity.8

  • Antibiotics. Antibiotics are the most standard and common treatment when it comes to a sinus infection. Antibiotics will work to attack the bacteria or infection that caused the sinus infection.
  • Nasal Sprays. Nasal decongestants can help shrink the swollen nasal passages and increase the flow of drainage from the sinuses.
  • Antihistamines. This kind of medication works to block inflammation that is caused by an allergic reaction. This will help fight allergy symptoms and relieve swelling in the nose and sinuses.
  • Surgery. Surgery is the last option that is offered for sinus infections. Surgery may be suggested in the case of chronic sinus infections and if other treatments have failed. The surgeon can alter bone defects such as separating the nasal passageways, removing nasal polyps, and opening closed passageways.

Learn More About Sinusitis

Take the time to learn more about sinusitis and how you can protect yourself. If you experience colds or allergies during a certain season, be careful to take care of yourself and your health to ensure it doesn’t turn into a sinus infection.

To learn more about Saber Healthcare and the services we provide, click here.

Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.


  1. Shital, Kumar. “What Is Sinusitis?” WebMD, July 19th, 2020. Accessed December 29th, 2021.,Blocked%20drainage%20ducts.
  2. “Sinusitis.” National Library of Medicine, Medline Plus. Accessed December 29th, 2021.
  3. “Sinus Infection (Sinusitis).” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed December 29th, 2021.
  4. “Acute Sinusitis.” Cleveland Clinic, June 4th, 2020. Accessed December 29th, 2021.
  5. Kivi, Rose. “Acute Sinusitis.” Healthline Media, September 29th, 2018. Accessed December 30th, 2021.
  6. “Chronic Sinusitis.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Mayo Clinic. July 16th, 2021. Accessed December 29th, 2021.
  7. Jewell, Tim. “Chronic Sinusitis.” Healthline Media, August 29th, 2018. Accessed December 30th, 2021.
  8. “Sinus Infection.” American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, Accessed December 29th, 2021.