Acute sinusitis symptoms often include:
- Drainage of a thick, yellow or greenish discharge from the nose or down the back of the throat (postnasal drainage)
- Nasal obstruction or congestion, causing difficulty breathing through your nose
- Pain, tenderness, swelling and pressure around your eyes, cheeks, nose or forehead that worsens when bending over
Other signs and symptoms can include:
- Ear pressure
- Aching in your upper jaw and teeth
- Reduced sense of smell and taste
- Cough, which might be worse at night
- Bad breath (halitosis)
When to see a doctor
Most people with acute sinusitis don't need to see a doctor.
Contact your doctor if you have any of the following:
- Symptoms that either don't improve within a few days or worsen
- A persistent fever
- A history of recurrent or chronic sinusitis
See a doctor immediately if you have signs or symptoms that may indicate a serious infection:
- Pain, swelling or redness around your eyes
- Swollen forehead
- Severe, unrelenting headache
- High fever
- Double vision or other vision changes
- Stiff neck
Acute sinusitis is most often caused by the common cold, which is a viral infection. In some cases, a bacterial infection develops.
You may be at increased risk of getting sinusitis if you have:
- Hay fever or another allergic condition that affects your sinuses
- A nasal passage abnormality, such as a deviated nasal septum, nasal polyps or tumors
- A medical condition such as cystic fibrosis or an immune system disorder such as HIV/AIDS
Acute sinusitis complications are uncommon. If they occur, they might include:
- Chronic sinusitis. Acute sinusitis may be a flare-up of a long-term problem known as chronic sinusitis. Chronic sinusitis lasts longer than 12 weeks.
- Meningitis. This infection causes inflammation of the membranes and fluid surrounding your brain and spinal cord.
- Other infections. Uncommonly, infection can spread to the bones (osteomyelitis) or skin (cellulitis).
- Partial or complete loss of sense of smell. Nasal obstruction and inflammation of the nerve for smell (olfactory nerve) can cause temporary or permanent loss of smell.
- Vision problems. If infection spreads to your eye socket, it can cause reduced vision or even blindness that can be permanent.