Symptoms and signs

Common symptoms and signs

  • Adults with acute sinusitis usually present with:

    • nasal blockage or congestion

    • nasal discharge

    • dental or facial pain or pressure

    • reduction or loss of the sense of smell.

  • Children (particularly young children) often present with non‑specific symptoms in the upper respiratory tract. Symptoms of acute sinusitis in children may include the following, but these can be present for many upper respiratory tract infections:

    • nasal blockage or congestion

    • discoloured nasal discharge

    • cough during the day or at night.

Factors that might make a bacterial cause more likely

It is difficult to distinguish viral and bacterial acute sinusitis. A bacterial cause may be more likely if several of the following are present:

  • symptoms for more than 10 days

  • discoloured or purulent nasal discharge

  • severe localised unilateral pain (particularly pain over teeth and jaw)

  • fever

  • marked deterioration after an initial milder phase.

  • Public Health England
  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)