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A sinus infection or sinusitis occurs when a virus or bacterial infection causes the sinuses on either side of the nose, behind the forehead, and behind the eyebrows to become inflamed or swollen.  Other causes include allergies, tooth infections, nasal polyps, and a deviated septum. There are two types of sinus infection: acute and chronic. Acute infections are short-lived and generally caused by allergies or the common cold. Chronic infections can last for months and often recur.

Pain

Pain is one of the first symptoms people experience with a sinus infection, and it is also the most noticeable. There are many sinuses located around the nose and eyes, and they can all cause dull aches or intense sharp pain. When inflammation and swelling take hold, the pressure can also cause a pounding, radiating effect. This symptom may be felt through the forehead, jaw, and teeth, as well.

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A runny nose

Sinus infections can cause discharge, which leads to drainage from the nose. This mucus is typically yellow or green. It may also drain down into the throat, causing a postnasal drip that can make the throat itch and lead to a cough when lying down. This mucus can also build up and settle, causing additional complications.

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Congestion

During a sinus infection, the nasal passages can become inflamed, restricting airflow into and out of the nose. Depending on the severity of the infection, the swelling can make it hard to breathe through the nose at all. This type of congestion can also affect the individual's ability to taste foods or talk, leaving their voice hoarse and causing temporary tonal changes.

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Headache

A pounding headache can accompany a sinus infection. Pressure and swelling can cause severe pain in the head, especially right above the nose and the eyes. This kind of pain can turn into a toothache or earache. Over the night, drainage can collect, leaving people with morning headaches that may improve over the day, or can worsen as temperatures and other conditions fluctuate.

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Coughing

As the sinuses are continually draining during a sinus infection, often the drainage has nowhere to go but down the throat. This can cause the throat to become sore and itchy and trigger a cough that might worsen at night. It is best to try to sleep while propped up against a few pillows, to stop the flow.

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A sore throat

When an individual is experiencing postnatal drip during a sinus infection, it is likely that they will eventually also develop a raw and aching throat due to the discharge from the infection. This may also cause hoarseness or voice loss until the infection clears up and the throat has a chance to heal.

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Fever

One of the symptoms that makes it easy to differentiate between a common cold and a sinus infection is a fever. This particular kind of fever can thrust individuals into moments of intense sweats, followed quickly by cold chills. Wrapping up in a warm blanket and drinking fluids to avoid dehydration can sometimes provide relief until the symptom passes.

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Fatigue

Long bouts of fatigue is a common symptom of a sinus infection. The infection itself can cause this, but the other symptoms also intensify it. Being unable to sleep through the night due to coughing or a sore throat will also make this lethargic feeling worse, especially when it persists through the duration of the illness.

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Bad breath

During a sinus infection, the individual will more than likely experience postnasal drip. This mucus that accumulates in the back of the throat can contribute to bad breath. A fever can also cause a dry mouth, lips, and tongue, which can also contribute to poor-smelling breath. Once the fever subsides, the congestion dries up, and the infection is treated, the breath should return to normal.

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Loss of smell

A loss of smell or anosmia is a leading symptom of a sinus infection. When the nasal passages swell up due to inflammation, sense of smell, as well as breathing, becomes difficult. When this occurs, it impacts the person's ability to taste food and drink. This symptom should disappear and the senses return to normal as soon as the infection clears.

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Thick, discolored nasal discharge

One of the hallmark signs of a sinus infection is the presence of thick, discolored nasal discharge. This mucus, which can range in color from yellow to green, is a clear indicator that your body is fighting off an infection. During sinus infections, white blood cells flock to the nasal passages and, as a result, mucus in the nose thickens and changes color. As these white blood cells die, they mix with debris from the nasal passages, again thickening the mucus and changing the color to yellow or green. Stay hydrated to help thin the mucus and use saline nasal sprays to facilitate drainage. Recognizing changes in the discharge's consistency and color can also help you monitor your recovery progress.

Man blowing his nose in his living room

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Reduced sense of smell and taste

A sinus infection can significantly impact your senses of smell and taste, reducing the enjoyment of meals and beverages. This symptom, often overshadowed by more immediate concerns like pain and congestion, can diminish your quality of life by making foods taste bland or unappetizing. Inflammation and swelling in the nasal passages restrict airflow and block the olfactory receptors, leading to a temporary loss or reduction of these senses. While frustrating, this symptom usually reverses once the infection clears. In the meantime, focusing on the texture and temperature of foods can help maintain an interest in eating and ensure you get the nutrition your body needs to fight off the infection.

Old elderly suffering Chronic Rhinosinusitis with Nasal Polyps or Sinusitis,cold or sinus infections,nasal congestion,blockage of nose,difficult to breathe through nostrils and reduced sense of smell

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.