Most people with sinusitis have facial pain or tenderness in several places, and their symptoms usually do not clearly indicate which sinuses are inflamed. The pain of a sinus attack arises because trapped air and mucus put pressure on the membranes of the sinuses and the bony wall behind them. Also, when a swollen membrane at the opening of a paranasal sinus prevents air from entering into the sinuses, it can create a vacuum that causes pain.
People with sinusitis have thick nasal secretions that can be white, yellowish, greenish, or blood-tinged. Sometimes these secretions drain in the back of the throat and are difficult to clear. This is referred to as “post-nasal drainage.” Chronic post-nasal discharge may indicate sinusitis, even in people who do not have facial pain.
However, facial pain without either nasal or post-nasal drainage is rarely caused by inflammation of the sinuses. People who experience pain but no nasal discharge often are diagnosed with a pain disorder—such as migraine, cluster headaches, or tension-type headaches—rather than sinusitis.
Less common symptoms of acute or chronic sinusitis include
On very rare occasions, acute sinusitis can result in brain infection and other serious complications.
Last Updated May 15, 2015