Cold Home > Sinus Infection (Sinusitis) Symptoms

Common symptoms of an acute sinus infection (sinusitis) include facial pain, nasal congestion, and drainage of thick, yellow-to-green mucus. Other possible signs include fever and cough. The symptoms tend to be the most severe between day three and day six of the infection. If your symptoms have not improved within seven days, contact your healthcare provider.

Understanding the Signs and Symptoms of Sinusitis

There are a number of common signs and symptoms of a sinus infection. The most common include:
 
  • Nasal congestion or blockage
  • Drainage of thick, yellow-to-green mucus (which can drain out the nose or down the back of the throat)
  • Tooth pain or discomfort
  • Face pain or discomfort that is worse when bending over.
     
The pain or discomfort with a sinus infection will depend, in part, on which sinuses are affected. Common locations for pain include:
 
  • The forehead
  • Teeth
  • Upper jaw
  • Cheeks
  • Behind the eyes
  • The side of the nose.
 
Most people have pain or tenderness in several locations.
 
Other possible symptoms and signs of an acute sinus infection include:
 
  • Fever (temperature greater than 100.4ºF or 38ºC)
  • Cough (which may be worse at night)
  • Ear pressure or fullness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Decreased (or loss of) sense of smell or taste
  • Bad breath (halitosis).
     
Most symptoms of sinusitis develop over 1 day and improve within 7 to 10 days. Symptoms tend to be at their worst from day 3 to day 6.
 

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Most sinus infections get better on their own. Therefore, healthcare providers often recommend treating them at home (see Sinusitis (Sinus Infection) Home Remedies).
 
You should, however, contact your healthcare provider if:
 
  • Your symptoms have not improved in seven days, or
  • The following symptoms have been present for more than seven days:
     
    • Face or tooth pain, especially if it is only on one side
    • Thick, yellow-to-green discharge from the nose
    • Cheek tenderness or pain (this is where your maxillary sinuses are).
 
You should also contact your healthcare provider if symptoms were getting better but suddenly get worse.
 
Signs that you should contact your healthcare provider right away include:
 
  • High fever (over 102.5ºF or 39.2ºC)
  • Double vision
  • Decreases in vision
  • Drooping eyelid
  • Swelling around the eyelid
  • Redness around the eyelid
  • Severe headache
  • Severe facial pain
  • Stiff neck
  • Shortness of breath
  • Changes in mental state.
     
This article discussed information related to acute sinusitis in adults. To read about signs of chronic sinusitis, click Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Sinusitis. Click Symptoms of a Sinus Infection in Children to learn what to watch out for in children.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
List of references (click here):
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