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What are the Most Common Sinus Infection Symptoms?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

The most common sinus infection symptoms are headache, stuffy nose, pain, post-nasal drip, sore throat, runny nose, and sometimes a throbbing sensation that worsens when coughing or sneezing. Pain may be present in one or more locations, depending on where the infection is located. Other symptoms may be present, although these generally originate from an illness aside from the infection itself.

A sinus infection usually occurs during or after another illness, such as the common cold or seasonal allergies. Symptoms can include a stuffy nose combined with intense pressure and pain in one or more locations in the face and head. Common areas where pain may occur include directly above the nose, beneath the eyes, the upper cheeks, and sometimes the forehead. Pain may intensify when one coughs or sneezes and then lessen almost immediately after. In some cases, the ears may become clogged or pressure may radiate outward toward the ears from the nasal region.

Sometimes sinus infection symptoms can range beyond the nasal cavity. Post nasal drip may drain downward and aggravate the delicate tissues of the throat or tonsils. This can cause swelling and intense sore throat. Many times, symptoms originating with the initial illness may also still be present. These can include frequent sneezing, fever, fatigue, scratchiness in the throat, and watery eyes. Colds and allergies are the most common causes for sinus infection, but occasionally another illness may be to blame.

Medications can be taken to help alleviate sinus infection symptoms. This can include over the counter pain medication or prescription drugs to kill some infections. Antibiotics may be beneficial for bacterial sinus infections, but viral varieties will not be alleviated with medication. In most cases sinus infections clear on their own with no treatment being required. Rest is advised to speed recovery.

If sinus infection symptoms are prolonged or become worse over time, a visit to the doctor may be warranted. Another medical condition may be the cause of symptoms, or an underlying illness may be contributing to infection. Allergies are one common cause of sinus infections and they can normally be treated with antihistamine medications to lessen symptoms.

Patients can decipher between cold and sinus infection symptoms by determining where and how long the illness has been present. Colds often cause similar nasal symptoms, but these should subside within a few days to a week. If this does not happen or symptoms worsen during this time, an infection may be to blame. In most cases sinus infections do not cause long-term difficulties. Recurrent infections or those which do not go away within two weeks may signal an immune disorder or another underlying illness.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Animandel — On Feb 12, 2014

As a rule, I can deal with all of the sinus allergy symptoms without much discomfort, except for the post-nasal drip. The draining absolutely makes my throat feel terrible and that makes my whole head feel terrible.

By Sporkasia — On Feb 12, 2014

There are some cultures where it is thought that the sinuses are connected to the emotional state of the body. In other words, symptoms of a sinus infection may be occurring because a person is emotionally depressed.

By Drentel — On Feb 11, 2014

I used to get sinus infections on and off. This pattern continued for years. I went to the doctor and took antibiotics and nasal sprays. The infections would clear up for a while and then come back in a week or two.

I tried several sinus infection home remedies. Some of them worked for a time and seemed to lessen the symptoms of the sinus infection, but nothing I tried ever totally took care of the problem. Eventually, I stopped getting infections. I don't know why.

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