summary sinusitis

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the lining of the sinuses. The sinuses (paranasal) are located in the bones of the skull near the nasal cavity and are filled with air. Further explanation of the different groups of sinuses in the definition of sinusitis.
We can distinguish between acute sinusitis and chronic sinusitis. Acute sinusitis usually occurs in winter and lasts for a few weeks at most, chronic sinusitis, as the name implies, lasts longer (more than 3 months). In this summary we will only talk about acute sinusitis.

In most cases the causes of sinusitis are viral (caused by a flu or a cold ), but it can also sometimes be caused by bacteria, such as cases of secondary infection after a flu or a cold. In the past, it was often thought that antibiotic treatment was necessary in this case, but a US study published in early 2012 showed the ineffectiveness of antibiotics for acute bacterial sinusitis.

The classic symptoms of acute sinusitis are mainly headache, generalized pain, fatigue, cough or cold, with or without purulent discharge.

Treatment of viral acute sinusitis can with analgesics, saline water or inhalations. In case of bacterial origin, the doctor can prescribe the same treatment in cases of viral sinusitis due to the low effectiveness of antibiotics. When sinusitis is of bacterial origin, the doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatories. In children, the use of ibuprofen should be avoided, prefer paracetamol.

Medicinal plants and natural remedies can cure some specific viral sinusitis and have a low cost. Examples are: eucalyptus , thyme or pine . A very effective remedy according to doctors is salt water.

To end this summary, here are some good tips in case of sinusitis: drink plenty of water, humidify your apartment (with a humidifier, for example) to cure faster cooling or prevent bacterial complications often associated with a sign of sinusitis.


Sinusitis is an inflammation of the lining of the sinuses, which may involve one or more sinuses. These sinuses also known as paranasal sinuses are cavities near the nose that are embedded in the bones of the skull. Because the nose and sinus lining are related, during a cold , microbes (bacteria, etc.) can be carried through the nose and into the sinuses. This is called acute sinusitis.

There is therefore an important link between sinusitis and colds (seasonal) or cold weather. There are several groups of paranasal sinuses:

– 2 maxillary sinuses

– 2 frontal sinuses

– 10-20 ethmoid sinuses

– 2 sphenoid sinuses

Note that in children only the ethmoidal and maxillary sinuses are present, the development of the frontal sinuses is around the age of two years, and the sphenoid around the age of three years.

Acute sinusitis or chronic sinusitis

There are differences between acute sinusitis (usually caught after a cold or flu) and chronic sinusitis (lasting longer than 3 months). Chronic sinusitis is the most common disease in the United States, it is therefore an inflammation that affects a very large population. It should be noted that during sinusitis, the sinus mucosa tends to produce excess mucus that clogs the sinuses and causes uncomfortable and painful symptoms.


Sinusitis can be caused by:

– Rhinitis (nasal congestion, runny nose), often caused by a virus (which can also lead to secondary bacterial infection, see below under treatment of sinusitis );

– Bacterial diseases (bacterial infections);

– Cold ;

– Allergies ( hay fever for example). Allergy is the main cause of chronic sinusitis;

– Dental problems;

– Diving in cold water, for example, scuba divers;

– Problems with nasal deformities;

– Nasal polyps (with allergies, another common cause of chronic sinusitis)

– Cystic fibrosis;

– Ar dry;

– A weakened immune system due to illness or medication;

(We don’t know all the causes of sinusitis, including causes of chronic sinusitis that are often unknown.)


The main symptoms of sinusitis are:

– Headache (you can often feel pressure at eye level);

– Fatigue (especially in cases of chronic sinusitis);

– A pain that reaches the head, with high sensitivity in the face. The pain can be localized and vary in intensity depending on the affected breast. Ear pain, as well as at the level of the teeth are possible;

– Nasal secretions often yellowish-green and thick (especially in the case of sinusitis caused by bacteria, see below), sometimes the smell can be nauseating;

– Presence of phlegm, mucus from the nose present in the mouth;

– Nasal obstruction ( rhinitis ), causing difficult breathing;

– Sometimes toothache (if reached sinus behind teeth);

– Sometimes red and puffy eyes;

– A cough;

– Sometimes fever (especially in children);

– Reduction of smell and taste;

– Bad breath .

Note: Consult a doctor if sinusitis lasts longer (more than 7 days), becomes frequent (several times a year) or is accompanied by suspicious symptoms (blood flow, etc.).

Healthy and inflamed breasts

Differences Between Acute Viral Sinusitis and Acute Bacterial
Sinusitis In cases of acute bacterial sinusitis nasal secretions are often yellowish-green, thick and purulent. In cases of viral sinusitis, the secretions are less purulent.

Duration of symptoms of different types of
sinusitis Acute sinusitis caused by viruses (often associated with the flu or a cold ):

– Less than 7 to 10 days.

Acute sinusitis of bacterial origin:

– From 10 days to about 12 weeks.

Chronic sinusitis:

– Over 12 weeks (3 months).


The diagnosis of sinusitis is usually made by clinical examination of the patient by a physician.

An endoscope (a small lighted/optical instrument) may be used to look inside the nose.

And, sometimes in cases of doubt in the diagnosis, the doctor can do exams or tests, such as x-rays or use other techniques such as tomography.


In some cases, and in the absence of treatment, bacterial sinusitis can lead to complications such as meningitis or otitis (inflammation of the ear).


Treatment of acute sinusitis (viral and bacterial):

The Mayo Clinic network of referral hospitals , often considered the best hospital in the world, estimated in an October 2022 article1 that natural remedies (read below) can be part of a sufficient treatment to treat acute sinusitis.

Viral sinusitis

Against viral sinusitis the pharmacist or doctor can prescribe:

– For pain: painkillers such as paracetamol .

Analgesics (against pain)
The doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications, analgesics – such as ibuprofen (or dexibuprofen), acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) and paracetamol; or more advanced corticosteroids to reduce inflammation associated with sinusitis. Pain relievers reduce pain caused by increased pressure in the sinus cavities, as noted by the Mayo Clinic (link working Jan 16, 2020).

– Medicines to clean the sinuses and clean:

– Nasal spray or decongestant tablets (vasoconstrictors) or nasal spray-containing corticosteroids (usually sold by prescription)

– saline solution

– Inhalations, such as herbs (see also good advice/tips )

Sinusitis of bacterial origin

If the sinusitis starts to last for more than 7 days and the most serious symptoms appear ( high fever , intense pain, purulent nasal discharge), you should see a doctor because it could be a primary or secondary bacterial infection, in which antibiotics (eg amoxicillin) are sometimes needed in severe cases. A study carried out in the USA published in early 2012 showed, however, the ineffectiveness of antibiotics (eg  amoxicillin ) in case of acute bacterial sinusitis against a placebo treatment, read further down in this section to learn about treatment of sinusitis with antibiotics and sinusitis.

The objective of the surgery may be, for example, the removal of nasal polyps or an enlargement of the opening of one or more cavities to favor the elimination of mucus.

Sinusitis in children Attention, according to a French study carried out in 2013 by the La Timone hospital in Marseille,
ibuprofen should be avoided as much as possible in case of sinusitis in children. Researchers have indeed observed an increased risk of serious intracranial complications when taking ibuprofen. We should prefer paracetamol for headache and/or fever in children.

Sinus surgery, usually by endoscopy, can treat chronic sinusitis that does not respond to other medical treatments. More than 250,000 sinus surgeries occur each year in the United States2 . In endoscopic sinus surgery, an endoscope and other surgical instruments are inserted into the nose to widen or open the normal drainage passages that connect the sinuses to the nasal cavity. For people with chronic or recurrent infections, these openings may be too swollen to allow good drainage, hence the interest in surgery.

Uselessness of antibiotics:
According to a team led by researchers at Massachusetts Eye and Ear , antibiotics are not necessary for patients after most endoscopic sinus surgery, despite the common practice of prescribing them. This study was published on December 19, 2020 in the scientific journal IFAR: International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology (DOI: 10.1002/alr.22756 ).

Chronic sinusitis
– The treatment of chronic sinusitis is a matter for a doctor, the treatment can be medication (antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, corticosteroids, immunotherapy in cases of allergic origin) or surgical (sinus cleaning), in certain cases.
– The doctor may also suggest anti-inflammatory medications ( ibuprofen , aspirin , etc.) or corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation associated with sinusitis.
– A British study carried out by the University of Southampton and published in 2016 in the specialized journal CMAJ ( Canadian Medical Association Journal ), showed that nasal irrigation based on salt waterwere effective in cases of chronic sinusitis, more so than inhalations. According to British researchers, the use of antibiotics to treat chronic sinusitis is often ineffective and increases the rate of antibiotic resistance.

Medicinal plants

The following medicinal plants have been able to demonstrate their effectiveness against sinusitis, mainly for use as an inhalation (very useful medicine to unclog the sinuses, tablet or syrup.

The herbal medicines described below can be used in cases of acute viral sinusitis without any problem, but in case of bacterial sinusitis, consult your doctor.

– Thyme , a plant with a strong disinfectant action to be used mainly in the form of essential oil for steam inhalation.
– Eucalyptus , mainly in the form of essential oil for steam inhalation.
– Pine , in the form of essential oil for steam inhalation.

natural remedies

– Onion poultice

– Thyme inhalation

– Physiological saline solution (physiological serum)

Tips & Prevention

– Use saline solution (saline solution) in regular instillation into the nose.

– Make inhalations (for example, based on essential oil of medicinal plants, read above). During inhalation, the steam enters the nose evenly and smoothly.
However, the effectiveness of inhalations for chronic sinusitis was called into question by a British study published in 2016 (read more in Treatments above). This study showed that nasal irrigations with salt water were effective in cases of chronic sinusitis.

– Drink fluids regularly: drinking improves the condition of sinusitis.

– Avoid alcoholic beverages.

– Use a humidifier, especially in winter when the weather is drier. In the case of sinusitis, it helps to moisten the mucous membranes of the nose and sinuses and thus loosen mucus and thus relieve sinusitis, the effect should also be preventive.

– Consume vitamin C , it is a stimulant to fight inflammation (sinusitis is an inflammatory disease).

– Try to cure colds or rhinitis as quickly as possible , since acute sinusitis can arise when these 2 diseases are poorly cured, with a secondary infection that actually causes sinusitis.

– If you are being treated with antibiotics against sinusitis, never stop the treatment before the end scheduled by the doctor even if the symptoms have disappeared. Always follow the doctor’s and pharmacist’s advice exactly when dosing drugs to avoid relapse and antibiotic resistance.

– Avoid smoking and do not expose yourself to secondhand smoke.

– Apply warm compresses over the nose, cheeks and eyes. This can help ease the pain.

– Relax. Resting allows the immune system to fight more effectively.

– Sleep with your head elevated as this helps your sinuses dry out.

– Be careful not to consume nasal sprays containing chemicals (against colds) over a long period, a maximum of 10 days of treatment is generally recommended. In fact, the use of sprays over a long period can lead to a vicious cycle that worsens colds namely by reducing the sensitivity of the nasal membranes to the chemical. Ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Jeanne Kenney
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I’m a stylist trainer, a content creator, and an entrepreneur passion. Virgo sign and Pisces ascendant, I move easily between my dreams, the crazy world I want, and my feet on the ground to carry out my projects.

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