What Is A Sinus Infection? A Complete Guide

What Is A Sinus Infection?

A Complete Guide

For long time sufferers of sinus issues, a sinus infection can mean a period of intense discomfort.

From those awful sinus headaches through to simple sinus pain from swimming underwater, having a sinus problem isn’t at all nice, but when that turns into a sinus infection, it can make life even more difficult.

We’re going to explain exactly what a sinus infection is and how to deal with the painful and uncomfortable symptoms.

Let’s take a look at sinusitis:

A Case Of SinusitisWhat Is An Infection Of The Sinuses?

A Case Of Sinusitis

A sinus infection also is known by the name sinusitis or even possibly rhinosinusitis, but it’s most commonly still just called a sinus infection.

Sinusitis occurs when the sinus passages in the nasal region, become inflamed resulting in painful and unpleasant symptoms that may require treatment.

If a person suffers from a sinus infection for a prolonged period of time it may become either an acute sinusitis or a chronic sinusitis.

What Is An Acute Sinusitis?

When a sinus infection lasts between four to thirty days, it’s considered an acute sinusitis (acute rhinosinusitis).

What Is A Chronic Sinusitis?

If a sinus infection lasts more the twelve weeks it may be called a chronic sinusitis issue (chronic rhinosinusitis). This is quite rare, but it does still occur.

If a sinus issue lasts for between the 30 day mark and the 12 week mark it will be call sub-acute sinusitis.

So, Precisely What Is A Sinus Infection?

It’s an inflammation of the sinus cavities caused by an infection.



what causes a sinus infection
What Causes A Sinus Infection?

Who Is Most At Risk Of Sinusitis?

There are several risk factors that increase the possibility of a sinus infection.

The factors that can affect those most at risk of sinusitis may include:

Nasal Polyps

These nasal polyps are little lumps inside the nose and sinus passages and can cause reduced breathing capacity, irritation and can increase the risk of a sinus infection.

A Cold Or Virus

Once the flu or common cold take hold, the infection can inflame and infect the sinus areas in a host’s facial region, exacerbating the symptoms of the cold and further to that, potentially giving the sufferer a case of sinusitis.

A Broken Nose

Having a broken nose can mean a reduced capability of breathing, a weakened immune system and a concomitant exposure to swelling and pressure on the nasal area.
A break may also pierce soft tissue around the nose, increase the chance of an infection.


A recent five year follow-up study concluded that people who suffer from asthma also have an increased risk of developing sinus complications that can result in a sinus infection (1)


One of the major issues with smoking is how the inhaled smoke can damage fine hairs name cilia, that are found in the sinus membranes. These cilia help to filter out some of the unwanted matter that we breathe in.
By damaging these via smoking, it can lead to an accumulation of infectious particles in the sinus passage which may cause irritation, infection and the accompanying sinusitis.

Genetic Defects

Some people may find themselves with a congenital defect affecting the structure of their nose and sinus passages.
This can mean that their sinus passages are not formed in the correct manner, leaving them susceptible to a possible infection

Living In Polluted Areas

Poor air quality means that someone living in a polluted area might be breathing in air that can affect their airways, including the sinus passages.
Polluted areas have been shown to have a strong correlation between breathing issues and said pollution. (2)

Colder Climates

It’s no secret to anyone living in a cold climate area, that cooler temperatures can lead to a runny nose.
Unfortunately, a dripping nasal passage can create a moistened and irritated environment that increases the risk of a sinus infection in that area.

Nasal Sprays

Some people with sinus problems can become reliant on decongestants such as nasal sprays. These nasal decongestants when overused can worsen a sinus issue making the use of them very discretionary and requiring vigilance. (3)

Deviated Septum

A deviated nasal septum can be a congenital defect, but it can occur from injury, piercing, and possible overuse of illicit substances.
The septum separates the two sides of the nose, but when pierced can lead to fluid leakage, postnasal drip, and potential infections that increase the chance of sinusitis.


Allergic reactions can lead to many symptoms similar to the signs of a sinus infection like a running nasal drip and a stuffy nose. These can sometimes bring about a rhinosinusitis or make an existing issue worse.

What Does This All Mean?

There are several causes of sinusitis, but some like smoking and climate may be avoidable for some people.



signs of a sinus infection
Signs Of A Sinus Infection

What Are The Symptoms Of Sinusitis?

Having a case of sinusitis may manifest in several different ways, but many of the signs of a sinus infection are easy enough to notice.
Some symptoms of sinusitis may include:

A Sensitive Face

When someone develops a sinus infection, they can find themselves with sensitivity in the facial region which can be uncomfortable to touch.

Nasal & Sinus Pain

Pain in the sinus passages can feel blunt and compressing. It’s an unusual sensation that can be quite easy to notice because of its uniqueness.

A Fever

An infection can be met with a fever increasing the person’s temperature possibly needing medical attention. (4)

Swelling In The Facial Region

A puffiness can arise from an irritation of facial muscles brought about by the inflammation of the sinus cavities.

Runny Nose

One of the easiest sign of a sinus infection to notice, but harder to distinguish from a common cold, a runny nose can be both a cause of a sinus problem and the symptom of one.


This can be a spread of an infection to the upper respiratory area, or it can also be nasal mucus irritating the same area leading to coughing.  Like many cold symptoms, a cough can have an impact of lifestyle by leaving a person irritable, unable to get to sleep and tired.

A Sore Throat

Another one of the symptoms of a common cold, a sore throat is also the sign of a sinusitis.  Like a cough, it can be caused by a spreading infection or the irritation of a nasal drip.

A Sinus Headache

A sinus headache is something people with long term sinus problems know all too well. We’ve put together a segment below.

What’s The Take Away From This?

It’s hard to tell the difference between a cold and sinusitis, but a medical professional may be able to assist.



what is a sinus headache
What Is A Sinus Headache?

One on the most common sinus problems that sufferers have to cope with is the frustration of a sinus headache.

While it can be hard for some people to differentiate the signs of a sinus headache from a migraine, for many people, the congested feeling makes it easy to know it’s a sinus related headache.

Signs of a sinus headache can include:

Throbbing pain in the cranial region

Stuffy congestion in the sinus cavities

Pressure around the sinus areas

Swelling of the face


As evidenced by the symptoms, a sinus headache is not only painful but also stuffy and frustrating.

Compound this with potential breathing issues accompanying a sinus infection and it can be very unpleasant.


Sinus Infection Treatments

Sinus Infection Treatments

Treating  Sinusitis

There are many available treaments for sinus infections, some natural, some precribed.

Let’s take a look at some of the remedies for sinusitis:

Saline Sprays

These are a simple saltwater solution that can be sprayed to irrigate the nasal passages.

Steam Treatment

Hot steam with menthol or eucalyptus oil can help to relieve the airways and unblock potentially stuffy nasal passages.

Hot Spices

Like steam treatments, hot chili and spices can help to get a blocked, stuffy nose running.


A body lacking in fluids can result in dry nasal passages, which may be easily irritated and uncomfortable.

Stay hydrated by drinking adequate water every day.


This involves dehumidifying your home to remove potential allergins from the air, making breathing easier and reducing the risk of a sinus infection.


These help to decongest the nasal passageway but overuse of nasal decongestants can actually lead to further sinus issues, so they must be used with the appropriate caution according to the instructions.


Prescription antibiotics may help to fight an infection, but it is likely that these may only be prescribed for acute to chronic sinusitis sufferers.


People with who suffer allergies such as a lactose allergy or being allergic to the dog may find antihistamines not only help to curb to symptoms of their allergy problem but also to relieve the signs of a sinus infection.


For those sinus sufferers with ethmoid sinus issues between their eyes, a surgical procedure known as an ethmoidectomy may help to relieve the problem.
An ethmoidectomy can help with the removal of both infected tissue and bone, which can offer future relief for someone with long term sinus pain.

Maxillary Antrostomy

This is a medical precedure involving the removal of sinus blockage in the maxillary sinus cavaties. Like an ehtmoidectomy, this can assist someone to reduce or remove the problems associated with sinusitus.

What Does This Mean For A  Sinusitis Sufferer?

There are many natural sinus treatments, but some people may require medication or surgery.



What Is A Sinus Infection?


The nature of a sinusitus has been shown to been invasive and troubling for long term sufferers of sinus issues, but there are some treatments available that can ease the pain.

From general discomfor to lack of sleep, sinus issues can have an impacting effect of an individual’s lifestyle.

The article looked at some of the causes of sinus infections, showing that many of them are, unfortunately, quite unavoidable such as living in polluted areas or suffering from congential defects that leave someone susceptible to sinusitus.

While some of the treatments can be quite uninvasive, for extreme cases such as some people with chronic rhinosinusitus, surgery may be absolutely necessary such as an ethmoidectomy or a maxillary antrostomy.

The one take away from this is that there are an array of options available to most people who have sinus problems.


We hope you enjoyed the article “what is a sinus infection”. The information contain is not offered for the purposes of treating, diagnosing or curing any illnesses, and is informational only. If you have need of medical advice, please consult a doctor.