What Are the Symptoms of Sinus Infection?

The classic symptom of acute sinusitis is a cold that shows no improvement or one that worsens after 5 to 7 days despite taking common cold medication.

More detailed sinus infection symptoms include:

frontal headaches, especially when you wake up in the morning

facial tenderness or pain, particularly under the eyes or at the bridge of the nose

tenderness in the sinus areas

low grade fever between 99 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit

thick, yellow or greenish, foul-smelling nasal discharge, sometimes tinged with blood.

runny nose, nasal stuffiness or congestion

postnasal drip, where your sinus drains down the back of your throat and you swallow it

snoring from breathing with more force due to the fluid build-up

dull sense of taste and smell

lost appetite due to your diminished ability to taste and smell

a sore throat

an itchy cough

hoarse voice

bad breath

aching upper jaw

pain in the teeth, especially the upper jaw molars

eyes sensitive to light, particularly in the morning

swollen eyes

blocked ears caused when mucous spreads to the eustachian tubes

sore ears when the infection spreads to your inner ear

pressure in the eyes, nose or cheek area or on one side of your head

a fullness over the whole face

general fatigue, lethargy and tiredness


sometimes increased sensitivity when you lean forward

might be mistaken for a lingering cold

itching eyes and sneezing would likely accompany allergic sinusitis.

Symptoms differ according to which sinus is affected and whether acute or chronic.

Acute sinusitis

1. Ethmoid sinusitis – behind the eyes near the tear ducts

Nasal congestion with discharge or postnasal drip

Pain or pressure in the region of the inner eye, between the eyes or down one or both sides of the nose

Loss of smell

Stuffy nose

Swollen eyelids and tissue around your eyes

Headache around the eye or in the temple

Pain or pressure worse when coughing, straining or lying down and better when upright.

2. Maxillary sinusitis – behind the cheekbones

Pain across the cheekbone, under or around the eye or around the upper teeth

Pain or pressure on one side of the face or both

Ache in your upper jaw and teeth

Tender cheeks

Tender, red or swollen cheekbone

Pain and pressure worse when your head is upright and better when reclining

Nasal discharge or postnasal drip


3. Frontal sinusitis – behind the forehead on one or both sides

Pain when you touch your forehead over the frontal sinuses

Severe headaches in the forehead region


Pain worse when reclining and better when upright

Nasal discharge or postnasal drip.

4. Sphenoid sinusitis (less frequently affected) – behind the eyes

Deep headache with pain behind and on top of the head, across the forehead and behind the eye


Neck pain


Pain worse when lying down or bending forward

Double vision or disturbed vision if pressure affects the brain

Nasal discharge or postnasal drip.

Unfortunately symptoms do not always indicate which sinuses are inflamed and sufferers often feel general pain and tenderness in many locations.

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