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Sinusitis – Symptoms & causes

What is sinusitis and what causes it?

Sinusitis is swelling of the sinuses, usually caused by an infection. It’s common and usually clears up on its own within 2-3 weeks. There are medicines that can help to reduce the severity of the symptoms.
The sinuses are small, air-filled cavities behind the cheekbones and forehead.
The mucus produced by sinuses would normally drains into the nose through small channels. These these channels become blocked because the sinus linings are inflamed (swollen) in sinusitis.

Common Symptoms

• Pain, swelling and tenderness around the cheeks, eyes or forehead
• Blocked nose
• Reduced sense of smell
• Green or yellow mucus from the nose
• Sinus headache
• High temperature
• Toothache
• Bad breath.


Patients may treat sinusitis at home using the following simple steps
• Placing a warm, wet towel or cloth on the face may relieve open up nasal passages and relieve discomfort.
• Sitting up at night by lying the head against a couple of pillows.
• Using salt water solution(saline) keeps the nasal passages from drying out.
• Humidifiers or vaporizers may help create moisture in the cavities; as dry air can irritate your sinuses.
• Steam inhalation is also effective but make sure the water is not hot to prevent scalding. too hot) water.
• Avoiding chlorinated pools as they can irritate nasal passages.

Over-the-counter products are available as single ingredient products or as combination ‘all-in-one’ remedies. They are available as tablets, capsules, nasal sprays and liquids. Most medications for sinus treatment interact with other medications so please check with our pharmacists before taking any of the over-the-counter medicines. The table below explains how the ingredients in these medications work.

When should I see the GP?

• Feeling confused or disorientated
• High temperature above 39°C
• Sharp chest pain
• Cough up blood-stained mucus(phlegm)
• Difficulty breathing
• Significant swelling of the glands in the neck and/or armpits regions
• Symptoms lasted more than three weeks.
ProductHow does it work?Active ingredients
DecongestantPhenylephrine narrows blood vessels in the nose to decrease swelling, making it easier to breathePseudoephedrine and xylometazoline also narrow the blood vessels in the nose to decrease swelling and congestionPhenylephrinePseudoephedrineXylometazoline
AnalgesicPain relief and reduces feverParacetamol
Anti-inflammatoryPain relief and reduces fever and inflammationIbuprofen