Sinuses are air-filled cavities inside our skull that help circulate and humidify the air that we breathe and shape our skulls. They have outflow tracts that drain into our nose which can sometimes get blocked or inflamed. When this happens, it can lead to a sinus infection. Acute Sinusitis, aka acute rhinosinusitis, is inflammation of the nasal cavity and surrounding sinuses. This can be caused by both bacterial or viral infections.
Below are some signs and symptoms that you may have a sinus infection:
- Thick, discolored nasal discharge: The color can vary, but may be yellow, green, or white.
- Facial pressure: Your face may be tender or painful (over your cheeks, in between your eyes, or even sometimes down to your teeth!).
- Nasal congestion: It might be difficult to breath through your nose from the increased mucous production in your nose.
- Loss of smell: Anything that blocks your nasal passage can take away your sense of smell. This can, in turn, affect your sense of taste as well.
- Postnasal drip: With the increased mucous production, it may be dripping down the back of your throat.
- Persistent symptoms for >2 weeks. Common colds or flus typically last 7-14 days. Anything persisting longer and not improving may be a sign of a bacterial sinus infection.
So how do you know if you have a cold, a sinus infection, or it’s just your allergies? If symptoms are progressing and persist after 2 weeks, we recommend formal evaluation by an ENT professional. Part of the visit is looking in your nose with a camera to visualize where your sinuses drain as well as in the back of your throat. After a thorough history and the endoscopy exam, we can determine the cause of your symptoms and treat as needed.