Authored by Revere Health

Sinus Infection FAQs

February 4, 2019 | Family Medicine

What is a sinus infection?

Sinus infection, also called sinusitis, occurs when the nasal passages become inflamed. This common condition affects 35 million Americans every year. When you have a cold or allergies, for example, the airways become blocked with bacteria-filled mucus—these bacteria can multiply and cause an infection.


Who is at risk for sinus infections?

Sinus infections are more common in people who have a deviated septum or nasal polyps. People with a weak immune system are also more likely to get sinusitis.

Children can be more susceptible to sinusitis if they go to daycare or preschool, and it’s more common among children who use a pacifier, drink from a bottle or are exposed to secondhand smoke. Smoking is a risk factor for adults—that’s because smoke irritates the nasal passages.

What are signs of a sinus infection?

Acute sinusitis has similar symptoms to a cold. These include facial pain, sneezing, and a runny or stuffy nose. A sinus infection can last two to four weeks. However, some people have chronic or recurrent sinusitis

Other symptoms of a sinus infection may include:

  • Thick yellow or green mucus
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Dental pain
  • Bad breath
  • Headache
  • Dull facial pressure
  • Postnasal drip
  • Hoarse voice
  • Sore throat
  • Limited sense of smell and/or taste
  • Pressure in the ears

Often, symptoms are worse in the morning. That’s because mucus collects in the nasal passages during the night.

How do I tell if my sinus infections are chronic?

With chronic sinusitis, symptoms typically occur for longer than 12 weeks. You may also have more severe symptoms, including fatigue. Recurrent sinusitis clears up but returns, and you may have infections several times a year.

What are treatment options for sinus infections?

If you think you have a sinus infection, it’s important to see a doctor. He or she can rule out other conditions that cause the same symptoms, such as a cold, flu or allergies.


Some sinus infections can be treated with over-the-counter medications called decongestants. Avoid using these for more than a few days, though, because using them for too long can make symptoms worse.

Before taking this type of over-the-counter medication, talk to your doctor. Decongestants may not be safe for you to take if you have problems sleeping, glaucoma, prostate issues or high blood pressure.

Nasal Sprays

Saline nasal sprays and nose drops can make it easier to breathe while the infection heals.

Antibiotics and Immunotherapy

Antibiotics may be prescribed for 10 to 14 days. Immunotherapy may help if you have a weak immune system.

Home Remedies

Self-care can also help with sinus infection symptoms. Using a vaporizer or taking a hot shower, for example, allows warm, moist air to clear your nasal passages. Warm compresses can also relieve facial pressure and pain.


Your doctor may prescribe steroids for severe sinus infections. For chronic infections, it’s essential to treat the cause. For example, controlling allergies can prevent sinusitis.

How can I prevent sinus infections?

Sinus infections most often develop from the common cold, so taking steps to protect yourself from the cold, like washing your hands frequently, can prevent sinus infections. You may also want to use a humidifier in your home to help keep sinuses moist and prevent infection from occurring. If you smoke, quitting can also reduce your risk.

Call the doctor if you have symptoms of a sinus infection. He or she can recommend the best treatment for you.


Call the doctor if you have symptoms of a sinus infection. He or she can recommend the best treatment for you. Revere Health Orem Family Medicine is devoted to comprehensive healthcare for patients of all ages and providing thorough and timely healthcare for the entire family throughout all ages of life.




“What is Sinusitis?” WebMD.

“Sinus Infection Symptoms.” Healthline.

“Acute Sinusitis.” Mayo Clinic.

The Live Better Team


The Live Better Team

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.