In a word, someone with a sinus infection usually feels lousy. Symptoms may include headache, throbbing pain in the face, particularly in the brow or cheekbones, pain in the upper teeth, fatigue, fever, swelling around the eyes, cough, nasal congestion and yellowish or greenish mucus discharge. The pain may worsen when you lean your head forward.
A sinus infection is a form of sinusitis, which means an inflammation of the sinuses. Not all sinusitis results in an infection. Sinuses are openings in the bones, but the two pairs located in the face typically cause all the problems with sinusitis. Mucus is supposed to drain from the sinuses and out the nose through little holes called ostia.
When someone has a cold, allergies or some kind of structural defect in the nose or sinuses, the sinuses may swell up and the ostia may become blocked. This reduces or stops the mucus drainage. The fluids pool up in the sinus, creating a good habitat for bacteria to flourish and develop into a sinus infection.
Sinusitis may be acute, lasting a matter of weeks, or chronic, lasting months. Acute sinusitis without infection can be treated with nonprescription drugs to treat the symptoms. Most of the drugstore sinus medications contain a decongestant combined with a pain reliever. You can help the healing process along with home remedies, such as drinking lots of fluids, humidifying the air, inhaling steam and using saline nasal flushes or saline nasal sprays.
If the doctor diagnoses a sinus infection, you will probably get a prescription for about a two-week course of antibiotics. Chronic infections often take prolonged antibiotic therapy, for about a month. Chronic sinusitis requires a different approach that focuses on controlling or eliminating the source of the problem.