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What is Sinusitis?

Sinusitis is the inflammation of the air cavities within the passage of the nose3.

How to spot sinusitis:

Here are some common symptoms to look out for in both acute and chronic sinusitis:

  • Congestion in the nose7
  • Pain and swelling in the sinus areas7
  • Decreased sense of smell7
  • Headache, toothache, earache and eye pain6
  • Productive cough - especially at night7

Discoloured dischare can be found in severe cases of sinusitis8, while a post nasal drip that irriates the throat is associated specifcally with chronic sinusitis6.


Sinusitis due to a cold or the flu:

Let's take a step-by-step look at how sinusitis usually develops from a common cold7.

  1. During a cold the mucous membranes in the nasal cavity swell up and block the openings of the sinuses.
  2. More air in the sinuses is absorbed into the bloodstream.
  3. Pressure inside the sinuses decreases, drawing fluid into the sinuses and causing discomfort.
  4. The build-up of trapped fluid encourages bacteria to multiply.
  5. White blood cells and more fluid enter the sinuses to fight off the bacteria.
  6. This leads to continued pressure changes and pain.
Key symptoms of sinusitis
  • Facial pain and tenderness8
  • Congestion in the nose8
  • Swelling over the infected sinus8
  • Decrease sense of smell8
  • Possible bad breath or halitosis8
  • Headache - due to pressure in blocked sinuses, bending down can increase pain6
  • General feeling or fatigue - due to fever, immune response or coughing6
  • Productive cough - especially at night8
  • Toothache - caused by pressure surrounding nerves and tissues6
  • Earache - causes by pressure on surrounding nerves and tissues6
  • Eye pain - causes by pressure on surrounding nerves and tissues6
  • Discoloured nasal discharge - in severe cases8
  • Postnasal drip - this irritates the throat tissue and is associated with chronic sinusitis8


Sinusitis in children:

At first, it can be tricky to distinguish sinusitis from an upper respiratory tract infection in children8. Sinusitis is, however, usually the suspect when pus-filled nasal discharge continues for more than 10 days and child remains tired with a persistent cough7.



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