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Sinus pain


Airway obstrucion



Acute Bacterial Sinusitis -

If you have sinus pain, and it comes on quickly, over a couple of days or less, acute bacterial sinusitis is a common cause. Here are some of the expected characteristics.
  • Often begins on one side and may stay on one side
  • May feel ill and usually have other nasal symptoms
  • Cough from infected drainage
  • Pain in upper teeth on one side especially, occasionally both sides

  • Nasal congestion
  • Cloudy or pus like drainage
  • Fever possible
  • Symptoms are not improving on day 6 or 7; viral infections are generally getting better by this point
  • May start with a common cold and just when you think you are getting better you then "develop" a bacterial infection with more localized sinus/nasal symptoms
If you are pretty sure that you have acute bacterial sinusitis based on the above, you should see a doctor. A family doctor is appropriate, but if you can get in to see a specialist quickly, that is perhaps better. The doctor will do an examination that will help determine the most probable diagnosis. The treatment for bacterial sinusitis varies from doctor to doctor and the choice of antibiotic is dictated by the severity of the problem, the duration of the symptoms, and if you have had recent antibiotic treatment.

One important consideration is when a patient has a history of "difficult to treat" sinus problems. Such patients should often be treated more quickly when upper respiratory infections occur, and should often be treated for a longer time than is usual.

Other possibilities and thoughts
  • Some viral infections can cause sinus pain when swelling obstructs the natural openings. Patients can get a pressure "squeeze"; this is much like your ear hurting if you can't "pop" it on an airplane.

  • During viral infections, some people are prone to have headaches. When you mix a headache with nasal congestion from the virus, you may get a "sinus headache". Some acute headaches can be difficult to distinguish from sinus pain.

  • One sided acute sinus pain can also be from a bad tooth. This would always be an upper tooth and would cause maxillary sinus pain.

  • People who get frequent acute sinus infections may actually be having flare ups of chronic sinusitis. They may not be fully cleared between flare ups.

  • We think of different problems if sinus pain is chronic. It should always be remembered that chronic problems often become symptomatic abruptly. In cases where the diagnosis is hard to determine, the causes of chronic sinus pain should be considered also. ie. allergic fungal sinusitis, anatomic abnormalities such as septal deviations, and tumors. At this point, CT scans or other radiologic studies are often obtained.

Your sinus pain....

Is it a type of headache?
Can pain be from allergies?
Acute sinusitis perhaps?

Let us help you figure it out.
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