Sinus Pain or Congestion

Disponible En Espanol


Definition:

  • Fullness, pressure or pain on the face over a sinus
  • Sinus pain occurs above the eyebrow, behind the eye, and under the cheekbone
  • Other common symptoms can be a blocked nose, nasal discharge, or postnasal drip

Symptoms

  • Most often, the pain or pressure is just on one side of the face.
  • Swelling around just one eye.
  • Other common symptoms are a stuffy or blocked nose or nasal discharge. Your child may also have a nasal drip down the back of the throat. This is called a postnasal drip.
  • Less common symptoms are bad breath or mouth breathing. Also, may have a sore throat and throat clearing from postnasal drip.
  • Age Limit. Sinus pain is not a common symptom before 5 years of age.

Causes of Sinus Congestion

  • Viral Sinus Infection. Part of the common cold. A cold infects the lining of the nose. It also involves the lining of all the sinuses. 
  • Bacterial Sinus Infection. A problem when the sinus becomes infected with bacteria. (occurs in 5% of colds). It starts as a viral sinus infection. Main symptoms are increased sinus pain or return of fever. The skin around the eyelids or cheeks may become red or swollen. Thick nasal secretions that last over 14 days may point to a sinus infection. This can occur in younger children. Sometimes, a fever returns.
  • Allergic Sinusitis. Sinus congestion often occurs with nasal allergies (such as from pollen).  Sneezing, itchy nose and clear nasal discharge point to this cause.

Treatment of Sinusitis

  • Viral Sinus Infection. Nasal washes with saline.  Antibiotics are not helpful.
  • Bacterial Sinus Infection. Antibiotics by mouth.
  • Allergic Sinus Infection. Treatment of the nasal allergy with allergy medicines also often helps the sinus symptoms. 

Color of Nasal Discharge with Colds

  • The nasal discharge changes color during different stages of a cold. This is normal.
  • It starts as a clear discharge and later becomes cloudy.
  • Sometimes it becomes yellow or green colored for a few days. This is still normal.
  • Colored discharge is common after sleep, with allergy medicines or with low humidity.  (Reason: All of these events decrease the amount of normal nasal secretions.)
  • Yellow or green nasal secretions can also be seen with a bacterial infection. Colored discharge points to a bacterial infection ONLY if it occurs with other symptoms. These are:
  • [1] sinus pain OR
  • [2] swelling or redness over any sinus OR
  • [3] the return of a fever after it has been gone for over 24 hours OR
  • [4] nasal discharge lasts over 14 days without improvement.
  • Nasal secretions need treatment with nasal washes when they block the nose. Also, treat if they make breathing through the nose hard. If breathing is noisy, it may mean the dried mucus is farther back. Nasal washes can remove it.

Return to School

  • Sinus infections cannot be spread to others. Your child can return to school after the fever is gone. Your child should feel well enough to join in normal activities.

Disclaimer

The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

  • Not a Substitute - The information and materials in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you.
  • Supplement - The information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker are meant to supplement the information that you obtain from your physician. If there is a disagreement between the information presented herein and what your physician has told you -- it is more likely that your physician is correct. He or she has the benefit of knowing your child's medical problems.
  • Limitations - You should recognize that the information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker have the following limitations, in comparison to being examined by your own physician:
    • You can have a conversation with your child's doctor.
    • Your child's doctor can perform a physical examination and any necessary tests.
    • Your child could have an underlying medical problem that requires a physician to detect.
    • If your child is taking medications, they could influence how he experiences various symptoms.

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