Viral Sinusitis

What is viral sinusitis?

Viral sinusitis is a viral infection of the sinuses (hollow spaces in bones of the face around the nose). It is a very common condition. It may follow a cold or flu. The most common symptoms are a blocked nose, and pain or pressure in the region around the nose. Viral sinusitis usually does not need any specific treatment, and usually lasts around 1 week.

Risks

Viral sinusitis is a very common condition. It tends to be more common in autumn and winter, and may follow a cold or flu infection. Women may be slightly more likely than men to get viral sinusitis. The condition is caused by viruses that infect the nose and throat. These viruses are spread by sneezing or coughing. People with allergies, nasal polyps or a deviated (not straight) nasal septum (the wall between the nasal cavities) might tend to get viral sinusitis more often, because these conditions make it easier for a virus to infect the sinuses.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms are a blocked nose, and pain or pressure in the region around the nose. There may also be pain or pressure in the forehead, around the eyes and in the upper jaw. The pain often gets worse when bending forwards. Other common symptoms are a runny nose, headache, ear pain, tiredness or fever.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis is based on the symptoms and physical examination.

Treatment

No specific treatment is needed for viral sinusitis. Some people find breathing humid air or steam, such as in a warm shower, helps to relieve symptoms. Anti-inflammatory medications (such as ibuprofen or paracetamol) may help to reduce pain and swelling in the nose and face. Decongestant sprays or tablets are also often helpful in relieving symptoms.

Prevention

Taking care to prevent the spread of colds or the flu in the home and community can help prevent some cases of viral sinusitis.