Do I Have Sinusitis?

Sinusitis is inflammation of the lining membrane of any sinus. Take the following quiz to see if you have sinusitis.
Choose “yes” if you have any of the following symptoms for ten days or longer; otherwise, choose “no.”

1. Facial pressure/pain?
     yes         no

2. Headache pain?
     yes         no

3. Congestion or stuffy nose?
     yes         no

4. Thick, yellow-green nasal discharge?
     yes         no

5. Low fever (99-100°)?
     yes         no

6. Bad breath?
     yes         no

7. Pain in the upper teeth?
     yes         no

If you answered “Yes” to three or more of the symptoms listed above, you may have a sinus infection resulting from allergies, bacteria, or a response to fungi. An examination by an ear, nose, and throat specialist may be warranted.

American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery


Preventing Sinusitis

Colds, flu, and allergies can lead more easily to sinusitis. Do your best to prevent sinusitis by preventing these underlying problems. Do what you can to avoid getting colds and other infections. Avoid any allergens (substances that cause allergies), and keep your sinuses as moist as possible.

Prevent Colds
Do what you can to avoid exposure to colds and flu. Whenever possible, take more time to rest when you feel something "coming on."

Wash your hands frequently, especially during cold and flu season.

As much as possible, stay away from infected people.

Follow these standbys for beating the "bugs": eat balanced meals, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep.

Avoid Allergens
First, find out what substances you're allergic to. Then, take steps to minimize exposure to allergens or irritants in the air such as dust, pollution, and pollen.

Wear a mask when you clean, or consider hiring a housecleaner to help minimize your exposure to dust.

Sit in the nonsmoking sections of restaurants.

Avoid the outdoors during peak pollution hours such as rush hour.

Keep an air conditioner on during allergy season and clean its filter regularly.

Maximize Moisture
Keeping your sinuses moist makes your mucus thinner, allowing your sinuses to drain better. This, in turn, helps prevent infection. Ask your doctor about these suggestions:

Use a humidifier, regularly cleaning out any mold or mildew in the reservoir.

Drink several glasses of water a day.

Avoid drying substances such as alcohol and coffee.

Avoid smoke, which dries out sinus linings.

If you've had surgery and get a cold, use saltwater rinses until the cold ends.


Tips for Self-Care

Sinusitis can often be managed with self-care. Self-care can keep sinuses moist and make you feel more comfortable. Remember to follow your doctor's instructions closely, which can make a big difference in getting your sinus problem under control.

Drink Fluids
Drinking extra fluids—a glass every hour or two—helps thin your mucus, allowing it to drain from your sinuses more easily. A humidifier helps in much the same way. Fluids can also offset the drying effects of certain drugs.

Use Saltwater Rinses
Rinses help keep your sinuses and nose moist. Mix a teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of fresh, warm water. Use a bulb syringe to gently squirt the water into your nose a few times a day. You can also buy ready-made saline nasal sprays.

Apply Hot or Cold Packs
Applying heat to the area surrounding your sinuses may make you feel more comfortable. Use a hot water bottle or a hand towel dipped in hot water. Some people also find ice packs effective for relieving pain.

Your doctor may prescribe medications to help treat your sinusitis. If you have an infection, antibiotics can help clear it up. If you are prescribed antibiotics, take all pills on schedule until they are gone, even if you feel better. Decongestants help relieve swelling. Use decongestant sprays for short periods only under the direction of your doctor. If you have allergies, your doctor may prescribe medications to help relieve them.