Sinusitis is a common disorder caused by sudden (acute) or persistent (chronic) inflammation of the mucous membrane that lines the sinuses, cavities carved into the bones of the skull and face (around the nose and eyes) that communicate, through narrow channels, with the inside of the nose (Video).

Under normal conditions, the secretions produced by the mucous membrane of the paranasal sinuses (mucus) flow into the nasal cavities. When inflammation occurs, however, the channels that carry them inside the nose narrow and mucus accumulates in the paranasal sinuses.

Sinusitis is often caused by a "viral infection (cold, flu) that usually gets better in two to three weeks". However, the stagnation of the mucus can favor the proliferation of bacteria coming from the nose or mouth (oropharynx); in this case a bacterial infection can be superimposed on a viral infection.

Sinusitis can also appear as a result of allergic inflammation or can be traced back to tooth infections.


The disorders (symptoms) that distinguish sinusitis are (Video):

  • stuffy nose (nasal congestion)
  • ache or feeling of pressure on the face
  • headache
  • fever
  • excessive tearing and eyelid edema
  • greenish-yellow nasal discharge
  • toothache
  • reduction or inability to perceive odors (anosmia)
  • bad breath (halitosis)

A general sense of fatigue and weakness may be associated with these symptoms.

Children with sinusitis can be nervous and irritable, breathe with their mouth, speak in a nasal voice, lose their appetite.

When the disturbances do not last more than 2-3 weeks, we speak of "acute sinusitis", if they last longer (a couple of months or more) the sinusitis is defined as "chronic".


The vast majority of acute sinus infections (which appear suddenly and rapidly) start with a prolonged cold caused by a virus that spreads to the sinuses. Only in some cases is sinusitis caused by a bacterial infection which generally develops as a complication of a previous viral infection. Rarely, an infection caused by fungi (fungal) or a tooth infection can be the cause of inflammation of the sinuses and cause sinusitis.

Chronic sinusitis (long-lasting or permanent) has been associated with:

  • allergies and related diseases such as allergic rhinitis and asthma
  • presence of growths inside the nose (nasal polyps)
  • smoke
  • depression of the body's defense system (immune system)

Symptoms of chronic sinusitis can be improved by treating associated diseases such as allergies and asthma.


The doctor will be able to ascertain (diagnose) sinusitis based on the symptoms (symptoms) present and by examining the inside of the nasal cavities. In case of severe or recurrent sinusitis, a specialist visit to the otolaryngologist may be necessary for further evaluation.


Normally, "acute sinusitis" that accompanies the common cold, caused by a viral infection, resolves spontaneously without resorting to medical visits or treatments (therapies).

Self-medication measures

If the symptoms (symptoms) caused by sinusitis are mild and have lasted less than a week, this may be sufficient self-medication measures to relieve them, clear the nose of mucus, reduce pain and lower fever, if any.

To remove mucus and clear the nasal passages, it is essential to perform nasal washes with saline several times a day.

Decongestants and mucolytics can also be used to reduce nasal obstruction. However, they should not be used for more than a week as there may be congestion caused by their use (return congestion) or an addictive or addictive effect.

To relieve pain and reduce fever, if any, over-the-counter pain reliever and anti-inflammatory drugs such as, for example, paracetamol and ibuprofen can be taken. It is always advisable to seek the advice of the attending physician who knows the general state of health of his clients. Do not give aspirin to children and young people under 16 years of age.

The application of hot packs on the face can help decrease pain and promote the drainage of mucus from the sinuses.

Medical therapies

In the case of severe disorders, in the absence of improvement after 7-10 days or in the case of an aggravation of the disorders (chronic sinusitis), it is necessary to consult the doctor who, if he deems it appropriate, may prescribe a treatment with antibiotics or corticosteroids ( in sprays, nasal drops or aerosols) or antihistamines in case the sinusitis is allergic in nature (Video).

Antibiotics are useful in case the sinusitis is caused by a bacterial infection and must be taken only on the doctor's prescription, carefully following his instructions regarding the dose and duration of treatment.


If medical treatment has not been sufficient to recover from the disease which, therefore, has become chronic, it may be necessary to undergo an ENT specialist examination to evaluate the advisability of surgical therapy.


NHS Choices. Sinusitis (sinus infection) (English)

Mayo Clinic. Acute sinusitis (English)

Mayo Clinic. Chronic sinusitis (English)

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