Paranasal sinus disease is an infection and inflammation of the paranasal sinuses that occurs when bacteria gets trapped in the mucous membranes. The more common name for this disease is sinusitis. Sinusitis often occurs as a secondary infection to another respiratory disease, such as a cold or flu. It can also occur as a result of allergies, structural problems (like a deviated septum) or concurrent with other diseases like cystic fibrosis. Acute sinusitis generally lasts a few days while chronic symptoms can last for weeks at a time. Both forms have similar signs and symptoms, regardless of the root cause.
Signs and Symptoms in Adults
Nasal congestion and postnasal drip are the most recognisable symptoms of paranasal sinus disease. The congestion and inflammation also causes pressure and head pain, usually between or behind the eyes. The head pain may become worse when bending over. There is also an uncomfortable feeling of fullness and heaviness in the head and the back of the throat may feel swollen. Patients may also feel facial tenderness, especially around the cheek bones, and toothache.
There may be thick nasal discharge or postnasal drip, accompanied by a sore throat. The postnasal drip can also cause bad breath and a cough which gets worse at night. In the first few days of the infection, there may be a fever, fatigue and general malaise. Fever usually occurs with acute sinusitis and is not a symptom of the chronic form of the disease.
Signs and Symptoms in Children
The symptoms in children are slightly different than in adults. The disease may present as part of an existing respiratory illness, like the flu, that improves then starts getting worse. Children are more likely to have a high fever and darkened nasal discharge.
Other Signs and Symptoms
While not as common, the infection may cause ear pain by spreading to the ear canals. Patients may also feel popping in the ears from the build-up of pressure in the sinuses. There may also be nausea, in part from the fever and from swallowing the products of postnasal drip. Patients can experience a loss of appetite from the nausea or from the diminished sense of smell usually associated with this disease.