Chronic sinusitis and acute sinusitis have similar signs and symptoms, but acute sinusitis is a temporary infection of the sinuses often associated with a cold. At least two of the following signs and symptoms must be present for a diagnosis of chronic sinusitis:

  • Drainage of a thick, yellow or greenish discharge from the nose or down the back of the throat
  • Nasal obstruction or congestion, causing difficulty breathing through your nose
  • Pain, tenderness and swelling around your eyes, cheeks, nose or forehead
  • Reduced sense of smell and taste

Other signs and symptoms can include:

  • Ear pain
  • Aching in your upper jaw and teeth
  • Cough, which may be worse at night
  • Sore throat
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Fatigue or irritability
  • Nausea

The signs and symptoms of chronic sinusitis are similar to acute sinusitis, except they last longer and often cause more significant fatigue. Fever isn't a common sign of chronic sinusitis, as it may be with acute sinusitis.

When to see a doctor

You may have several episodes of acute sinusitis, lasting less than four weeks, before developing chronic sinusitis. You may be referred to an allergist or an ear, nose and throat specialist for evaluation and treatment.

Schedule an appointment with your doctor if:

  • You've had sinusitis a number of times, and the condition fails to respond to treatment
  • You have sinusitis symptoms that last more than seven days
  • Your symptoms don't get better after you see your doctor

See a doctor immediately if you have symptoms that may be a sign of a serious infection:

  • Pain or swelling around your eyes
  • A swollen forehead
  • Severe headache
  • Confusion
  • Double vision or other vision changes
  • Stiff neck
  • Shortness of breath
Jul. 02, 2013

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