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Acute Sinusitis in Adults

This fact sheet helps you to know what is ‘normal’ and what you can expect to happen if you develop sinusitis. It also tells you when you should become concerned and seek advice from a health professional.

Could it be Coronavirus?

A high temperature could be a symptom of coronavirus (Covid-19)

Main symptoms

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:
• a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature).
• a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual).
• a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.

Most people with coronavirus have at least 1 of these symptoms.

What to do if you have symptoms

If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus:
1. Get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible.
2. Stay at home and do not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test.

Visit NHS .UK:

Here you will find the latest advice on symptoms, how to book a test and advice on when and how long you. your household and your ‘bubble’ need to isolate

Useful Facts

What are sinuses? Sinuses are cavities in our face bones that open up into the nose, helping to control the water content and temperature of the air reaching our lungs.
What is sinusitis? The body’s response to irritants or bugs (inflammation) can lead to sinusitis: a swelling and irritation of the lining of the sinuses. Viral infections, such as the common cold, can cause the lining of the nose to swell, blocking the small opening from the sinuses to the nose. Fluid inside the sinuses may build up, which can make you feel bunged up and stuffy.
What types are there? Sinusitis can be acute (resolving within 2 ½ weeks) or chronic (which can last longer than 12 weeks).
What are the symptoms? The most common symptoms include a blocked or runny nose, pain and tenderness in the face, and a raised body temperature. Additional symptoms are headache, cough, pressure in your ears, feeling generally unwell, bad breath, tiredness, and reduced taste and smell.
Will I need antibiotics? The symptoms of sinusitis usually get better on their own without treatment. Antibiotics are unlikely to help unless the symptoms are severe .

What Can I Expect to Happen

Duration: The symptoms of acute sinusitis last longer than the common cold and take about 2 ½ weeks to clear. Chronic sinusitis may last for months.
Need for treatment: In most people, sinusitis will get better without treatment, and about two thirds of people with sinusitis won’t need to see their GP.

What can I do myself to get better – now and in the future?

Simple measures:
Rest, applying warm face packs and washing out the nose with a steady stream of saline solution (available from your
pharmacy) may help relieve your symptoms.

Fluids and food:
Drink plenty of fluids to replace those lost from sweating and a runny nose. Get some rest until you feel better – we usually know when we are well enough to return to normal activities. Eat healthily, including at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.

Over the counter medicines:
Paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin can help reduce the symptoms of sinusitis. Avoid giving aspirin to children under the age of 16 and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. A decongestant preparation for your nose (for a maximum of one week) can help if a blocked nose is the problem.

Not recommended:
Complementary and alternative medicines, steam inhalation, and drugs such as antihistamines, mucolytics and steroids are currently not recommended

When to seek medical help

In addition to the advice on Covid-19 above, contact your GP surgery for urgent advice if you notice one or
more of the following:
• If you develop a high temperature (above 39°C or 102.2°F), which can be a sign of a more serious type of infection (but remember that a temperature of over 37.8 may be a sign of coronavirus – see above);
• You are confused or disorientated;
• You feel really unwell;
• You are at high risk of complications because you suffer other medical conditions;
• You suffer severe pain or discomfort in your face;
• Your nose produces lots of thick green/yellow fluid.

Where can I find out more?

Visit NHS Website ( or for more information about sinusitis.

Remember that your pharmacist can also assist you in assessing your symptoms.

To see or download this factsheet in leaflet format please click here

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