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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 after colds and the flu. If you have sinusitis, your symptoms will usually get worse after five days, or will last for more than 10 days. In some cases, there is an infection in the sinuses caused by bacteria.

See your GP if:

  • your symptoms are severe or getting worse
  • your symptoms haven't started to improve after around 7-10 days
  • you have frequent episodes of sinusitis.

Your doctor may prescribe medicines including regular pain relief, a saline nasal spray or a nasal decongestant. In some cases, your doctor may decide to give you inhaled steroids or an antibiotic. If you often get sinusitis, it could be due to an allergy so they may refer you to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist.

Tell your doctor if you develop bleeding from the nose, a stiff neck, swelling, or problems with your vision.

Managing sinusitis symptoms

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: September 2017

Need more information?

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Sinusitis - myDr.com.au

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Sinusitis is inflammation of the sinuses, with symptoms like pressure, pain or swelling under the eyes. If your child has sinusitis, its good to see a GP.

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Sinusitis is an infection in small air spaces (sinuses) in the bones of the face, mostly around theside and back of the nose and in the forehead. Many children get sinusitis when they have a cold. Usually the infection goes away within a week or so, but sometimes it can last for many weeks.

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Sinusitis and allergy - Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)

The sinuses are cavities within the skull. They drain into the nose through small holes. Sinusitis means inflammation of the nasal sinuses. Sinusitis is most commonly short-lived, such as after a viral cold. Blockage of the drainage pathways, however, creates an environment that favours the overgrowth of bacteria resulting in long-term (chronic) sinusitis. Hayfever and polyps are the most common reasons for having recurrent or chronic sinus infection.

Read more on ASCIA – Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy website

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Allergic rhinitis, hay fever, sinusitis, pollen

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How does doxycycline work?

Doxycycline kills the bacteria that cause sinusitis, pneumonia, bronchitis, chlamydia and other infections. Find out how doxycycline works.

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What is cefuroxime for?

Cefuroxime is an antibiotic used to treat bacterial sinusitis, pneumonia, and middle ear infections (otitis media). Find out more.

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