Sinusitis Symptoms

Sinusitis makes it difficult to breathe through the nose. Among other things, this can decrease the ability to smell. This, in turn, can affect the ability to taste, because the two senses are linked. People suffering from sinusitis often experience the following signs of sinusitis:

  • Facial pain and pressure
  • Nasal congestion and blockage
  • Lost or reduced sense of smell and/or taste
  • Headaches
  • Post nasal drip (drainage down the back of the throat)


Sometimes, a person suffering from sinusitis doesn’t realize the sinus is inflamed until the pain or pressure strikes while flying on an airplane, driving up a mountain, or even leaning forward or bending down. The pain can be a sudden piercing or squeezing feeling.

Sinusitis signs or symptoms often get misdiagnosed to other conditions. Allergies, colds and upper respiratory infections share similar symptoms.

Adding to the complexity is that physicians cannot diagnose sinusitis based on symptoms alone. They need to examine the nasal swelling or inflammation. To do this, they often use a small camera (endoscope) to get a better view of the sinuses. They might also order a CT scan (a special X-ray test) to assess the level of inflammation.

Sinusitis Classifications


Acute sinusitis is a temporary sinus infection, often caused by a cold/virus or bacteria. It typically lasts less than four weeks, and often clears up on its own.

If symptoms are getting worse or you have questions, talk to your doctor. 90-98% of sinus infections are caused by a virus; therefore, they should not be treated with antibiotics, which are only meant to treat bacterial infections.1

Chronic sinusitis is when there are two or more sinusitis symptoms and swelling/inflammation that lasts 12 weeks or longer.


Chronic sinusitis does not clear up on its own, and can be challenging to treat. If you feel you suffer from chronic sinusitis,  an ENT physician can help. 



  1. Infectious Diseases Society of America, news release, March 21, 2012