SymptomsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Chronic sinusitis and acute sinusitis have similar signs and symptoms, but acute sinusitis is a temporary infection of the sinuses often associated with a cold. At least two of the following signs and symptoms must be present for a diagnosis of chronic sinusitis:
- Drainage of a thick, yellow or greenish discharge from the nose or down the back of the throat
- Nasal obstruction or congestion, causing difficulty breathing through your nose
- Pain, tenderness and swelling around your eyes, cheeks, nose or forehead
- Reduced sense of smell and taste
Other signs and symptoms can include:
- Ear pain
- Aching in your upper jaw and teeth
- Cough, which may be worse at night
- Sore throat
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Fatigue or irritability
The signs and symptoms of chronic sinusitis are similar to acute sinusitis, except they last longer and often cause more significant fatigue. Fever isn't a common sign of chronic sinusitis, as it may be with acute sinusitis.
When to see a doctor
You may have several episodes of acute sinusitis, lasting less than four weeks, before developing chronic sinusitis. You may be referred to an allergist or an ear, nose and throat specialist for evaluation and treatment.
Schedule an appointment with your doctor if:
- You've had sinusitis a number of times, and the condition fails to respond to treatment
- You have sinusitis symptoms that last more than seven days
- Your symptoms don't get better after you see your doctor
See a doctor immediately if you have symptoms that may be a sign of a serious infection:
- Pain or swelling around your eyes
- A swollen forehead
- Severe headache
- Double vision or other vision changes
- Stiff neck
- Shortness of breath
- Sinuses|Sinusitius|Rhinosinusitis. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions-a-to-z-search/sinuses,-sinusitis,-rhinosinusitis.aspx. Accessed March 25, 2013.
- Lalwani AK. Current Diagnosis & Treatment in Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=39. Accessed March 25, 2013.
- Caimmi D, et al. Nose and lungs: One way, one disease. Italian Journal of Pediatrics. 2012;38:60.
- Albu S. Novel drug-delivery systems for patients with chronic rhinosinusitis. Drug Design, Development and Therapy. 2012;6:125.
- Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM): Prevention & control. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/prevention.html. Accessed March 24, 2013.
- Meltzer EO, et al. Rhiosinusitis diagnosis and management for the clinician: A synopsis of recent consensus guidelines. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2011;86:427.
- Rudmik L, et al. Olfactory improvement after endoscopic sinus surgery. Current Opinion in Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery. 2012;20:29.
- Fact sheet: 20 questions about your sinuses. American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/sinuses.cfm. Accessed March 31, 2013.