Know If Your Sinus Infection Is Bacterial Or Viral

As per the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. almost 0.5% of all upper respiratory tract infections are complicated by sinusitis. This means the incidence of acute sinusitis ranges from 15-40 episodes per 1000 patients every year, depending on the setting.

Such infection is more common in adults as compared to children, whose sinuses are not fully developed.

Almost 28.9 million adults are diagnosed with sinusitis, which is equal to 11.6% of U.S adults. 242,000 adults visit emergency departments with chronic sinusitis as the primary diagnosis, says the Centers for Disease Control And Prevention.

Chronic sinusitis is when the space between the nose and the head(sinuses) are swollen and remain inflamed for three months or longer despite the treatment.

In such conditions, the person may feel the same as mucus normally drains and the nose stuffy. This will make your breathing difficult, and the area around the eyes may swell or tender.

An infection growth in the sinuses (nasal polyps) or swelling of the sinuses’ lining contributes to the occurrence of sinus infection. It is also known as chronic rhinosinusitis that can affect both adults and children.

How Do You Know If A Sinus Infection Has Spread To Your Brain?

Below is the list of common signs and symptoms of chronic sinusitis, such as:-

  • Nasal inflammation
  • Thick, discolored discharge from the nose
  • Postnasal drainage (drainage down the back of the throat)
  • Obstruction or congestion in nasal 
  • Difficulty while breathing through the nose
  • Feeling pain, tenderness, and swelling around your eyes, cheeks, nose, or forehead
  • Low sense of smell and taste.

Other signs and symptoms can include:

  • Pain in the ears
  • Feeling a bit of pain sensation in the upper jaw and teeth
  • Cough or throat clearing
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty while breathing
  • Fatigue

Even though both chronic sinusitis and acute sinusitis have similar symptoms, they differ in terms of duration. Acute sinusitis is a temporary infection of the sinuses usually linked with a cold. 

Whereas the symptoms of chronic sinusitis last for at least 12 weeks, before chronic sinusitis, the person will have several acute sinusitis episodes before developing chronic sinusitis. 

Having a fever is not a necessary symptom of chronic sinusitis, but the person may have it while getting infected with acute sinusitis.

What Causes Sinus Infection?

Below are mentioned some of the common causes of chronic sinusitis, such as:-

  • Nasal polyps: It is a non-cancerous tissue growth inside the nasal passages(sinus) that blocks the air from passing through it.
  • Deviated nasal septum: It is a crooked septum wall between the nostrils that restricts air passage through the sinus, thus wording the symptom of sinus infection.
  • Other medical complications: Some medical complications, such as cystic fibrosis, HIV, and other immune system-related diseases, may or may not cause sinus infection but will worsen your condition
  • Respiratory tract infection: Respiratory infections, such as colds, can help you get infected by the sinus infection. Such infections can be viral, bacterial, or fungal.
  • Allergies: Inflammation that develops along with allergies, can block your sinuses, worsening your condition.

Also Read: Is It A Common Cold Or Sinus?

How Is Sinus Infection Diagnosed?

For the diagnosis of sinus infection, the doctor would like to examine your nostrils and face. He may also have to examine the inside of your nose using the below-mentioned procedures, such as:-

  • Imaging tests: It includes a CT or MRI scan that shows the details of the sinuses and nasal area. These images will help the doctor to pinpoint deep inflammation or physical obstructions, causing difficulty breathing.
  • Examine sinuses: This procedure includes a thin, flexible tube with a fiber-optic light, which will be inserted through the nose. This will help the doctor to examine the sinuses easily.
  • Allergy test: In some cases, allergies also contribute to the occurrence of sinus infections. Therefore, the doctor may ask you to go for allergy tests in order to determine the actual cause of the infection so that treatment can be done accordingly.
  • Examine a sample of nasal and sinus discharge: Diagnosing the nasal sample is sometimes unnecessary, but the condition fails to respond to treatments, the doctor may take a sample from the nose to collect samples that will help know the possible causes, such as bacteria or fungi.

How Do You Cure A Sinus Infection?

Below are mentioned some of the common treatments for sinus infection, such as:-

Nasal corticosteroids:

Nasal sprays, such as fluticasone, triamcinolone, budesonide, mometasone, and beclomethasone, can help you resolve the sinus symptoms. In case the sprays are not that effective, the doctor may recommend a saline solution mixed with drops of budesonide or using a nasal mist of the solution.

Saline nasal irrigation:

Nasal saline with nasal sprays or solutions will lower drainage and rinses away irritants and allergies.

Oral or injected corticosteroids:

Corticosteroids help relieve inflammation from severe sinusitis, especially in nasal polyps. Oral corticosteroids may cause severe side effects if consumed for a long period of time. Therefore, they are mostly used only to treat severe symptoms of sinusitis.

Aspirin desensitization treatment:

Aspirin is usually used in larger doses in order to increase tolerance. But in case you are reactive to aspirin, you can go for this treatment to cure sinusitis.


In case the sinus infection is caused due to bacterial infections, antibiotics are necessary to consume in such cases. Your doctor may recommend antibiotics with other medications.


Sometimes, allergies also contribute to the development of sinus infections. In those cases, allergy shots(immunotherapy) are recommended that help to lower the body’s reaction to specific allergens.


If the medication and therapies are not enough to resolve a sinus infection, surgery might be an option. In this procedure, the doctor uses a thin, flexible tube with an attached light(endoscope) to examine the sinus passages.

Depending upon the obstruction in the sinus, the doctor may use various instruments to remove the tissue and clear the passage. Enlarging a narrow sinus opening is also an option to clear the passage.

How Can I Prevent A Sinus Infection Naturally?

As per Harvard Health Publishing, here are some below mentioned preventive measures for sinus infection:-

  • Bathe your nasal passage daily, keep it clean and clear.
  • Consume lots of water
  • Inhale steam to keep your air passage clear
  • Avoid dry-air or polluted-air environment
  • Sleep with your head elevated
  • Avoid using antihistamines unless prescribed as it thickens the mucus
  • Avoid smoking cigarette

Consult with the doctor if you have any signs and symptoms of sinus infection. Treating it in its early stage will help you keep your distance from severe complications.


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Janet Fudge

Janet Fudge writes on general health topics for She holds a post-graduate diploma in Public Health with a major in epidemiology. During the outbreak of COVID-19, Janet actively volunteered in vaccination drives throughout the state of Iowa. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two children.