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Sinus Infection Symptoms & Diagnosis


Symptoms of sinusitis may include:

  • Nasal congestion not responding well to either decongestants or antihistamines
  • Runny nose or postnasal drip
  • Thick, yellow, or green mucus
  • Cough , often worse at night
  • Ear pain, pressure, or fullness
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Dental pain
  • Facial pain or pressure that increases when you bend over or press on the area
  • Facial congestion or fullness
  • Bad breath
  • Fatigue


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Sinusitis is diagnosed based on its symptoms and tenderness of the sinuses when pressed.

Tests may include:

  • Holding a flashlight up to the sinuses to see if they are illuminated
  • CT scan of the sinuses—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the head
  • Endoscopic examination of the sinuses—threading a tiny, lighted tube into the nasal cavities to view the sinus opening
  • Removing sinus fluid through a needle for testing (rare)

You have acute sinusitis when the following occur:

  • History of 10 or more days of colored mucus
  • Tenderness over the sinuses
  • Visible mucus in the nose

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2023 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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