Ethmoid sinus infection

Updated July 19, 2017

A sinus infection occurs when the nasal passages and the sinuses become inflamed when bacteria or viruses enter. An ethmoid sinus infection occurs between the eyes and causes inflammation in the frontal sinus. A headache and pressure on the eyes and nose are common signs of an ethmoid sinus infection.


The ethmoid sinuses are in the skull above the nose and between the eye sockets. This sinuses are small and have seven to 10 bubbles that connect. Mucus membranes line the bubbles. The ethmoid sinuses have a passage way in each bubble that drains the naval cavity. If bacteria enters the lining of the ethmoid sinuses, they become inflamed and block the ostia. Mucus in the ethmoid passage is not able to drain if it is inflamed. That allows mucus to build up and cause an infection. This is known as ethmoid sinusitis or ethmoiditis.


Ethmoid sinus infections are acute. The symptoms typically last less than eight weeks if you get the infection once a year. If you get them more often, symptoms may last up to 10 days. Ethmoid sinusitis symptoms include nasal congestion and discharge, postnasal drip and pressure or pain in the inner corners of the eye or on one particular side of the nose. Ethmoid Sinusitis may be accompanied by a headache in the temples and eyes. The symptoms of pain or pressure are worse when you are lying down, and lessen when you stand or lean your head upright.


A decongestant may be helpful to clear the airways. Nasal decongestant spray such as Afrin, Naphcon, Forte and Neo-Synephrine usually help. A decongestant is used to open up the airways, but in mild ethmoid sinusitis caused by bacteria, antibiotics may also be prescribed. A synthetic penicillin such as Amoxil, Polymox and Trimox will work against microorganisms. Those that are allergic to penicillin can take trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole or TMP/SMX, which is made from sulphur.


To help protect against ethmoid sinusitis, wash your hands and avoid people who have common colds. A yearly influenza vaccination will help to reduce the risk of infections throughout the year. A healthy diet that includes antioxidants will help to strengthen the immune system. It is important to get the proper amount of sleep each night so that your body can rest and recover. Drinking plenty of water and fluids will help to thin nasal secretion and mucus.


Ethmoid sinusitis is an infection of the frontal sinuses and has the potential to cause blood clots on both sides of the face. This condition may cause eye socket infection, which may be accompanied by fever, swollen eyelids and droopy eye lids. Eye socket infection is a serious illness that can cause permanent blindness or the ability to move the eyes. If you have developed any of these symptoms, it is vital that you seek immediate medical attention.

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About the Author

Nicole Murray is a full-time freelancer in Chicago, Ill., who has been writing since 2004. She has published articles in "Stone Magazine,", "Reservoir Magazine," "Canadian Builders Quarterly" and She has her undergraduate degree in creative writing and marketing from Columbia College.