Symptoms of Sinusitis

What is Sinusitis?

Sinuses are the air-filled spaces in our skull there are three types of sinuses, maxillary (behind the cheeks), ethmoids (between the eyes), and sphenoid (below the midbrain) they are lined by mucosa, and inflammation of these linings is called sinusitis it may or may not involve the bone. It happens due to various reasons like cold, allergy, bacterial infection, etc.


Symptoms of Sinusitis

Common cold vs Sinusitis!

We all know that cold and sinusitis symptoms just overlap and it becomes very difficult to say whether one is suffering from cold or sinusitis. A common cold causes runny and stuffed noses and so can sinusitis. One may suffer body ache and fever in both conditions. But the main difference lies in the duration and severity of symptoms and also untreated sinusitis may lead to complications while common cold will not. There are other facts as well which will help understand the difference better-


While stuffed nose, fatigue, and headache are common in both common cold and sinusitis the duration of symptoms is always less than a week in common cold. Fever is present in both common cold and sinusitis but it remains below 100 o F in the common cold while it can shoot more than 100 o F in sinusitis.


Sometimes symptoms of sinusitis can be more severe and of longer duration. Pain in and around the eyes, eye swelling or redness, pain in the upper jaw, foul smell can indicate complications of sinusitis. It is even more difficult to differentiate sinusitis from a common cold in children.

Symptoms of Sinusitis in children are-

  • Unexplained/ heavy cough
  • Toothache
  • Swelling surrounding eyes/ visual disturbance
  • Pain in ears
  • Bad/ foul breath

Types of sinusitis

1. Acute sinusitis

Acute sinusitis is of the shortest duration. It can result from a viral infection like the common cold and causes symptoms typically lasting for less than a week, sometimes when bacterial infection sets in, acute sinusitis can easily last for up to 4 weeks.


2. Chronic sinusitis

Chronic sinusitis is said when symptoms last for more than 3 months. But mostly they’re less severe. Bacteria is the main culprit in these cases. Untreated chronic sinusitis may lead to complications.


3. Subacute sinusitis

When acute sinusitis symptoms get prolonged but are of less than 3 months duration it is called subacute sinusitis. Apart from bacterial infection, this condition can commonly occur with seasonal allergies.

Effects of sinusitis on daily functioning

Certainly, the common cold reduces the quality of life. We all have suffered from colds and coughs at least once in our lifetime, and we know it can significantly affect our lifestyle. In fact, the common cold is the documented most common reason for sickness leaves all over the world.


As the severity or duration of symptoms increases, it becomes even difficult to do day-to-day work. Food becomes nonpalatable. patient experiences low mood, with no willingness to participate in daily activities or to go to work. They can have distorted sleep and therefore they feel even more tired the next day. It would not be wrong to say that people go for even surgical treatment to mainly improve their quality of life.

Are nasal sprays safe for usage?

Nasal sprays are being commonly used now but there are many types of nasal sprays as per what they contain-

  • Decongestant nasal spray
  • Steroid nasal spray
  • Antihistamine nasal spray
  • Saline nasal spray

Decongestant sprays

For common cold there are over-the-counter decongestant nasal sprays available which are beneficial for short-term usage, they help in cutting down the duration or severity of a cold. But, prolonged use of decongestant sprays is harmful in two ways, the first patient becomes addicted to it and secondly, they cause rebound congestion over a long time of use.


Some studies have shown that 50% of the population coming with nasal congestion has had a history of overuse of decongestants. Sometimes this rebound hypertrophy (enlargement) may even require surgery. There are few indicators to suggest rebound hypertrophy-


  • The patient feels congestion shortly after their use. With time duration of relief, the period becomes shorter to an extent where the patient feels that sprays have stopped working.
  • One feels strongly to use them even without any cold.
  • When sprays are used daily to have normal breathing.

Steroidal nasal sprays

Unlike other anabolic steroids, local nasal steroid sprays are not harmful, in fact, they contain corticosteroids which help in reducing inflammation due to allergic response. And as they go directly into the nose there is desired effect without any side effects related to systemic use.


These sprays for chronic sinusitis are considered safe for a longer period of use. Although studies claim them to be safe, they also suggest that their (fluticasone nasal sprays) use should be judicial in children where they sometimes might lead to slow growth.


Antihistamine sprays

They act on histamine the main inflammatory mediator for an allergic response. They are considered safe above the age of two but take time for onset of action which can be 5-7 days. They do not cause addiction.


Saline sprays

As the name suggests they don’t contain any medication and these are safe for use in all age groups even for longer duration without almost any side effect.

How to reduce the chances of developing sinusitis?

To avoid developing sinusitis we must first know what causes it. Here are factors that make us more prone to having sinusitis-

  • Bad daily habits, not washing hands before eating, smoking, not cleaning surroundings on regular basis, etc.
  • Consuming less water.
  • A sedentary lifestyle and other comorbid conditions like diabetes.
  • Working in a dusty or polluted environment without proper precautions and safety.
  • When one is already suffering from allergies. Or when there is a family history of allergy.
  •  Certain foods also increase inflammatory response like fast foods, fried or frozen foods, processed sugar, processed oils (high omega-6 fatty acids), gluten and dairy products, etc.

So, to avoid sinusitis here are some healthy habits to practice-

  • Wash hands frequently.
  • Clean your room, beddings, furniture on regular basis.
  • Avoid dust and pollution, put on a mask whenever you are in a dusty environment.
  • Drink plenty of water. Avoid consuming processed sugars, fast food, and an excessive quantity of dairy products.
  • Stop smoking. 
  • Do exercise on regular basis. 
  • Wash your nose on regular basis.
  • Keeping your bedroom humidified with too much dry air may also lead to sinusitis. Take steam whenever possible especially in cold weather. 
  • Sleep with head elevated.
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