Sinusitis occurs when the sinuses become inflamed; the sinuses are located either side of the nose and behind the cheekbones and forehead in four pairs. Most cases of sinusitis are acute, meaning they come on quickly and last only a short time, but it is possible to have chronic sinusitis.

Causes of sinusitis

The sinuses may become inflamed as a result of many different factors; these include:

  • A viral infection, such as a cold or influenza
  • Exposure to allergens
  • Exposure to irritants such as smoke or pollutants
  • Facial injuries
  • Cystic fibrosis (this causes mucus to build up in areas of the body and makes people more susceptible to infections)

Symptoms of sinusitis

There may be several different symptoms associated with sinusitis but the most common symptoms are:

  • tenderness and pain around the forehead and nose, which gets worse when you move your head to one side or forwards or backwards or when you sneeze or cough
  • a runny nose
  • a blocked nose and pain when you blow it (usually, mucus coming from the nose will be a bright yellowy colour)
  • a raised temperature

Other symptoms may include:

  • headaches
  • tiredness
  • a feeling of pressure in the ears, which may cause them to ‘pop’
  • loss of senses, especially taste and smell
  • generally feeling lethargic and unwell

Guide to Ear, Nose and Throat Conditions

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Staying healthy