Cold Home > Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Sinusitis

Over 75 percent of people with a chronic sinus infection experience feelings of pressure or pain in the head or face. Other symptoms of this condition include postnasal drip, nasal congestion, and a decreased sense of smell. The signs of chronic sinusitis are often confused with symptoms of other conditions, such as migraine headaches, allergies, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Classic Symptoms and Signs of Chronic Sinusitis

There are four classic chronic sinusitis signs and symptoms. These include:
  • Pain, pressure, or fullness in the face or head
  • Mucus- or pus-like nasal drainage and/or postnasal drip
  • Nasal congestion
  • Decreased sense of smell.
Most people diagnosed with chronic sinusitis have at least two of these four symptoms.
Pain, Pressure, and/or Fullness
More than three out of four people diagnosed with chronic sinusitis have pressure or pain in the face or head. People with the condition often describe it as a vague discomfort, fullness, or pressure located:
  • In the cheeks
  • Above or below the eyes
  • Above or below the upper jaw or teeth
  • Across the bridge of the nose.
This differs from acute sinusitis, where people are often able to point to a specific location of their pain.
Tooth pain is less common in chronic sinusitis compared to an acute sinus infection.
Nasal Drainage/Postnasal Drip
For a person with chronic sinusitis, fluid from the sinuses can either drain out the nose or into the back of the throat (this is known as postnasal drip).
With chronic sinusitis, the discharge is usually mucus- or pus-like and thick. It can vary in color from light to dark, although it is usually white or light yellow. It also can be thick or thin.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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