Sinus Information


You have four pairs of sinuses. They are lined with mucous membranes that help keep your nose from drying out. The mucus helps trap any dirt and bacteria that you breathe in. That’s if nothing gets in the way. Unfortunately cold sufferers may develop an inflammation of their sinuses that can lead to sinusitis.

Symptoms you may suffer from:

  • green or yellow discharge
    from the nose
  • pain and tenderness
    around cheeks, eyes and forehead
  • blocked nose
  • high temperature (fever)
  • headaches

How to prevent

Sinusitis is caused by too much mucus, or a swelling of the lining of the sinuses, which can block the narrow channels. It's usually the result of a cold or flu virus, an allergy or irritant that causes the membranes of the sinuses to become inflamed. As sinusitis is often brought on by a cold or flu virus, preventing infection is one of the best ways to prevent sinusitis. Preventing a cold begins with cleaning your hands regularly. And when you think about it, that’s a healthy habit to get into any time, as is staying fit to help your immune system fight off infection. You might also want to avoid crowded places where the risk of catching someone else’s cold may be higher.

How to treat

In most cases, sinusitis takes about two-and-a-half weeks to clear up (longer than a cold). For mild sinusitis, over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can be used to relieve a headache, high temperature and facial pain or tenderness, whilst a decongestant such as Otrivin® can help unblock your nose.
Additionally, there are some simple things you can do at home to help such as regularly using a saline solution to clean out your sinuses and allow them to drain; this technique is known as nasal irrigation. Other recommendations include applying a warm pack to your face and drinking sufficient fluids.

A bacterial infection can occur on top of the viral infection, in which case antibiotics may be required.

See your GP if your symptoms don't improve after seven days, if they're getting worse, or if your sinusitis keeps coming back.

For even more information about sinusitis, visit our Sinusitis FAQs

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