Sinusitis: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment



Sinusitis are air-filled spaces in the forehead, nose, and cheeks, which can get inflamed. As a result of inflammation, affected individuals experience facial pain or localised pain depending on the area that is stuffed, a stuffy or runny nose, and even fever or other symptoms. This inflammation is medically known as sinusitis. 

Symptoms of sinusitis can be effectively managed with the help of home remedies and over-the-counter medicines. Let’s understand the aspects of sinusitis in detail.

What is Sinusitis?

Sinusitis is a common inflammation of the tissues lining the sinuses, which are air-filled structures in the face, typically present inside the nose, in the forehead, and beneath the eyes in the cheeks. Infections such as bacterial or viral infections or allergies can irritate the lining of these structures, leading to the filling of fluid in these structures. Thus, fluid cannot drain from the sinuses, causing blockage. This ultimately leads to pressure and pain in the face, along with nasal congestion and other symptoms.

The fluid in the sinuses is produced to keep the nose clean and free from bacteria, viruses, allergens, or other pathogens that can potentially irritate the lining of the sinuses. Irritation in the sinuses causes blockage in the drainage system of the fluids, causing pressure to build up in these structures.

Types of Sinusitis

The type of sinusitis present in an individual is categorised based on how long it has been there and what causes it. Bacteria, viruses, or fungi are common pathogens which may lead to sinusitis. 

Based on how frequently or how long sinusitis is present, it can be categorised into the following types:

  • Acute Sinusitis: Acute sinusitis may last for a few days or weeks and have similar symptoms like nasal congestion along with the feeling of pain and pressure in the face and a reduced sense of smell.
  • Subacute Sinusitis: It may last for more than a month up to three months.
  • Chronic Sinusitis: This type of sinusitis is often caused by bacteria and lasts for more than three months. 
  • Recurrent Acute Sinusitis: This type of sinusitis occurs in a repeated cycle of a few weeks or months. It may be common during allergy season and subside consequently. 

Based on the underlying pathogen that is causing sinusitis, it can be broadly classified into three categories:

  • Bacterial Sinusitis: Bacteria can also cause sinusitis. When there are persistent sinusitis symptoms even after ten days, it is often a case of bacterial sinusitis. Antibiotics and decongestants may work well for bacterial sinusitis.
  • Viral Sinusitis: Viruses, such as those that cause the common cold, are mostly the contributing factor to sinusitis.
  • Fungal Sinusitis: Fungal sinus infections tend to be more serious than sinusitis caused by other pathogens. They tend to occur in individuals with low immune power to defend against fungi.

Exploring the Symptoms of Sinusitis

The symptoms of sinusitis mimic those of the common cold. Sinusitis may even develop following an upper respiratory infection. In case a person experiences persistent cold and nasal congestion, it is more likely to be sinusitis.

The common signs and symptoms of sinusitis may include the following:

  • Stuffy nose or runny nose with thick yellow or green mucous
  • Postnasal drip or mucous running down the throat
  • Headache
  • Tiredness 
  • Pain in the face
  • Pressure in the face, particularly around the nose, eyes, and forehead
  • Ear pain or pressure
  • Bad breath or halitosis
  • Decreased sense of smell
  • Soreness in the throat 
  • Toothache
  • Fever
  • Cough

Understanding the Causes of Sinusitis

In many cases, sinusitis occurs as a result of viruses causing the common cold or seasonal flu, which may spread to the sinuses from the upper respiratory airways. In a very few cases, bacterial infection causes sinusitis. Fungal infection may also affect the sinuses, leading to symptoms of inflammation.

It hasn’t been discovered what exactly causes chronic or long-lasting sinusitis, but is believed to have been associated with the following conditions:

  • Smoking
  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy, puberty, or hypothyroidism
  • Allergies and related conditions like rhinitis and hay fever
  • Immunodeficiency or weakened immune system 
  • Structural anomaly of the nose, such as a deviated septum or nasal polyps,
  • Changes in humidity or weather and environment 
  • Emotional disturbance or stress

Risk Factors of Sinusitis

Sinus infections and sinusitis can occur in anyone at any point in time. Certain risk factors and health conditions may increase the likelihood of developing sinusitis in an individual. 

Some of the common risk factors that may contribute to sinusitis may include the following.

  • A history of allergies
  • Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoking
  • Having a deviated septum in the nose
  • Nasal polyps; non-cancerous growths in the nose
  • Bone spur or growth in the nose
  • Exposure to mould
  • Dental infection
  • Travelling by aeroplane, which exposes to various germs 

Sometimes, cold or allergic reactions may lead to excessive mucous production and retention in the upper airways and nasal passageways. This may encourage the growth of bacteria and other pathogens that may eventually lead to sinusitis.

Managing Sinusitis

In a majority of the cases, sinusitis is caused by viral infections, which may not require any treatment. Over-the-counter medicines and home remedies may be enough to help ease symptoms. 

Some of the common means of sinusitis treatment are the following.

  • Pain Medications: Sinusitis may cause pain in the forehead and headache. Over-the-counter pain medications may help relieve pressure and pain due to sinusitis.
  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics may be beneficial for the treatment of bacterial sinusitis. Antibiotic therapy may help treat symptoms of runny nose, nasal congestion, cough, etc.
  • Surgery: If a person experiences chronic sinusitis, which doesn’t improve with other means of treatment, a doctor may recommend undergoing surgery to remove any physical obstruction that may be causing the symptoms, such as removing polyps and repairing a deviated septum.

Home Remedies for Treating Sinusitis 

Sinusitis causes some common symptoms like nasal congestion and tenderness due to fluid buildup in the nose, forehead, and the area underneath the eyes on the cheeks. Here are some home remedies that can be tried to get rid of sinusitis symptoms at home.

  • Applying a warm, damp cloth to the face and forehead several times during the day to relieve pressure.
  • Take warm vapours by placing the face above a bowl of hot steaming water and covering the head with a towel to get rid of the stuffy nose.
  • A humidifier can also be used instead of vapours. 
  • Perform nasal irrigation or rinse using saline water to clear mucous from the nose.
  • Stay amply hydrated and take enough fluids to help thin out mucous.
  • Use a nasal spray or decongestants that are available as over the counter. 


Sinusitis is a common treatable condition from which people can recover even without seeing the doctor or taking any medicines for it. However, in some cases, sinusitis symptoms can get prolonged or may affect a person repeatedly. In such a case, it is important to consult the top doctors at Omni Hospitals to understand the underlying cause and get treated accordingly.