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Sinusitis

What is sinusitis?

Sinusitis is when the hollow spaces in the bones of your face become inflamed. Your body will normally overcome the cause of inflammation within two and a half weeks without the need for medical treatment.

Sinusitis is a common symptom for colds and the flu. It can be difficult to tell the difference between them. In general symptoms are more intense with the flu.

Treatment of sinusitis

If you are looking after yourself, the tips below may help relieve the symptoms:

  • Decongestant medicines - available as tablets, nasal sprays or drops - may be helpful, but do not take them for longer than instructed.
  • Always follow the manufacturer's instructions when taking or giving someone else any medicines.
  • It is important to stay well hydrated so drink plenty of water. If you have an existing medical condition check with your doctor about how much water is right for you.
  • Gently blow your nose one nostril at a time.
  • Place a warm or cool cloth, whichever helps, over the aching area.
  • Rest and avoid heavy activity until symptoms go away.
  • Keep the room at a comfortable temperature.
  • Smoking or breathing in other people’s smoke can make symptoms worse. Try to avoid being around people who are smoking. If you are a smoker, try to cut down or quit. For advice on quitting smoking, visit the Quit Now website
  • Find advice on suitable medicines for pain.
  • Find out more about self-care tips if you have a high temperature (fever).

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your sinusitis, check your symptoms with healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: July 2015

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