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Sinusitis: Cause, Symptoms & Treatment


There’s a nip in the air and the sun has started shying away. With the onset of winter, conditions are rife to help trigger a host of respiratory problems, seasonal allergies and hyperactive sinuses. The cold air tightens our nasal passages, causing congestion. Dry indoor heating leads to irritation, leading to sinus headaches. Copious warm beverages and steamy hot food become our go-to solution for some hydration and warmth. During this time the most common form of nasal congestion comes in the form of sinusitis. As per studies and data by NIAID, India has reported up to 134 million cases of sinusitis in a year

While initially it gives flu-like symptoms, we often tend to opt for home remedies like a warm compress, saline drops, steam etc. for quick relief from symptoms. However, it is always advisable to visit a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. 

What is Sinus and Sinusitis?

Sinus refers to air-filled cavities in the skull connected to our nasal passages through narrow vent-like passages. We are normally born with 4 pairs of sinuses, each lined by a thin watery fluid called mucus membrane. This helps the sinuses drain out any form of bacteria, allergies, and other pathogens from your nose and keeps it clean.

Allergies, bacterial infections, and viral infections can irritate and clog up the sinuses with fluid. It further leads to nasal congestion (stuffy nose) and ends up causing pain all over your face in severe congestion triggering inflammation or swelling. This swelling or inflammation of the tissue lining our sinuses is known as Sinusitis. In this case, the otherwise watery mucus turns sticky and refuses to flow out of the nasal passage. 

What Are the Causes and Risk Factors of Sinusitis?

Sinusitis can stem from different sources, including viruses, bacteria, nasal polyps, or allergies. In cases of persistent or recurring sinusitis, there may be underlying factors that necessitate specific treatment. Consulting with a healthcare professional is vital to comprehending your unique situation and devising an effective plan moving forward.

Watch out for the specific triggers for sinusitis, which are:

  • Viral: the common cold, or influenza virus can lead to sinusitis
  • Bacterial: streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, Haemophilus influenza bacteria and Moraxella catarrhalis bacteria 
  • Allergic: nasal allergies and seasonal allergies

Sinusitis may affect anybody. But there are risk factors and medical disorders that might raise your odds. People more susceptible to sinusitis might contract it via to germs in certain scenarios, such as:

  1. flying aboard an aircraft, 
  2. dental infection,
  3. tobacco smoking,
  4. mould exposure, 
  5. mucus linings affected by cystic fibrosis
  6. colds and other upper respiratory tract infections
  7. weakened immune system
  8. structural issues affecting the nose by birth. 

You Can Also Read: Deviated Nasal Septum

What Are the Symptoms of Sinusitis?

The common symptoms of a sinus infection include:

  1. Lethargy and headache with fever.                         
  2. Cough with a sore throat and foul breath.
  3.  Pressure or pain in your teeth, ears, nose or forehead.       
  4. Blocked or runny nose with green or yellow mucus.
  5. Post-nasal drip (mucus dripping down your throat).    
  6. Diminished sense of smell and taste.

What Are the Types of Sinusitis?

The symptoms of sinusitis vary, however, there are several varieties. The symptoms will differ in terms of intensity and length.

Acute Sinusitis:

  • Shortest duration of up to 4 weeks.
  • Trigger: Viral infection due to common cold.
  • symptoms last up to seven to ten days.
Recurrent Acute Sinusitis:

  • At least four bouts of acute sinusitis in a year. 
  • Trigger: Low immunity attracts more infection. 
  • Symptoms can persist for at least seven days.
Subacute Sinusitis:

  • Duration: Average up to 12 weeks.
  • Trigger: Bacterial infections or seasonal allergies 
  • Symptoms can last up to 3 months. 
Chronic Sinusitis:

  • Trigger: Bacterial infection, recurrent allergies or structural nasal problems
  • Symptoms of chronic sinusitis last longer than 12 weeks. 
  • Fever is uncommon, and symptoms get severe over time.


How is Sinusitis Diagnosed?

Medical professionals identify sinusitis by looking at your medical history and symptoms. A medical professional will examine your throat, nose, and ears for swelling, drainage, or obstruction. An endoscope is a tiny, illuminated device that they could use to examine the inside of your nose.

You could also receive a referral from your doctor to a specialist, such as an otolaryngologist, or ENT (ear, nose, and throat specialist).

Your doctor may prescribe some tests to identify a sinus infection, such as:

  • Allergy screening – Your doctor could test you for allergies if you have persistent sinusitis to see whether they are the cause.
  • Imaging investigations – In some cases, your provider might order a CT scan/MRI/Endoscopy, depending on the severity of your symptoms, to get a better understanding of your pain points.
  • Nasal swabs – Your healthcare professional could take a fluid sample from your nose using a stick with a soft tip. They will check it for viruses or other microorganisms that might be the source of your symptoms. 

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What is the Treatment for Sinusitis?

The different treatments for sinusitis are:

Nasal de-congestion:

To help ease nasal congestion, try these simple medical and home remedies for temporary relief:

  • Use an over-the-counter nasal corticosteroid spray as prescribed by your ENT
  • Utilize a humidifier in your bedroom to reverse the dryness.
  • Take a hot steam bath to counter the dryness.
  • Hot water gargling and sipping on water and juice helps over time. 
  • A saline nasal rinse, either homemade or over the counter.
  • A warm, moist towel on your face and forehead helps ease facial pressure.

Pain Medications:

If you’re in pain due to facial pressure from sinus congestion, several over-the-counter drugs may be able to temporarily ease the discomfort while the other medications prescribed by your ENT work their magic.


Depending on the severity and cause of your symptoms and tests performed your ENT might prescribe antibiotics, especially in case of fever, eye swelling, facial pain or headaches, cough, congestion and runny nose.
Doctors usually prescribe a full course of antibiotics which lasts up to 2 weeks. Ensure you don’t skip your medication else the problem will be recurring. If this does not help, it is time to revisit your ENT and get a further assessment done to arrive at a desired treatment.


If medicine and time do not relieve your chronic sinusitis, you may need surgery. This is especially true in the case of nasal polyps and deviated septum. To repair this and clear the sinuses, your ENT will suggest septoplasty surgery.


Sinus infections are common and treatable. Numerous factors, including viruses, germs, nasal polyps, or allergies, might cause them. If sinusitis happens often, and symptoms don’t improve or any of the above-mentioned symptoms mirror that of your own, then it is always advisable to seek medical help from an experienced ENT specialist. Timely care and help can ensure an appropriate diagnosis and treatment of your condition. Make sure you share everything with your physician and if the disease prolongs then seek expert help from an ENT surgeon. 

At the CK Birla Hospital, we follow a patient-centric approach where not only do we provide solutions but also understand the comfort of each patient undergoing treatment. This not only helps patients make an informed decision about their health, heal better and manage any treatment-induced weakness. In case you need to consult an ENT specialist, reach out to us, or book a direct appointment at the CK Birla Hospital. 


How Long Does Acute Sinusitis Usually Last?

Acute sinusitis typically lasts for about two to four weeks. However, the duration can vary, and seeking medical advice is crucial for proper diagnosis and management of symptoms.

 Can Sinusitis Be Caused by Allergies?

Yes, sinusitis can be caused by allergies. Allergic reactions to substances like pollen, dust, or pet dander can lead to inflammation in the nasal passages, contributing to sinusitis.

 Are There Natural Remedies for Relieving Sinusitis Symptoms?

Yes, natural remedies for sinusitis symptoms include saline nasal irrigation, steam inhalation, staying hydrated, using a humidifier, and consuming warm fluids. Consult a healthcare professional for persistent or severe symptoms.

When Should I See a Doctor for Sinusitis?

See a doctor for sinusitis if symptoms persist for more than 10 days, worsen after initial improvement, or are severe. Seek immediate medical attention for high fever, severe headache, or visual changes.

Can Sinusitis Lead to Complications if Left Untreated?

Yes, untreated sinusitis can lead to complications like chronic sinusitis, ear infections, and, in rare cases, meningitis or brain abscess. Seeking medical attention for persistent or severe symptoms is crucial.

Can Sinusitis Heal in 4 Hours?

This might take 4 days of fever and then a week of weakness but certainly not 4 hours. Instant relief over-the-counter medications only provide temporary relief. 

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