In the United States, about 13 percent of non-institutionalized adults have a sinus infection, also called sinusitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When a person has a sinus infection, her sinuses become inflamed, which can include one or more of the four paranasal sinuses.
These four spaces are the ethmoid sinuses (which is between the eyes behind a person’s bridge of her nose), sphenoid sinuses (which as behind the ethmoid sinuses), frontal sinuses (which are above the eyebrow area) and maxillary sinuses (which are in each of the cheekbones).
The type of sinus infection that a person has depends on how long the symptoms last. If symptoms last for under four weeks, it is classified as an acute sinus infection. Subacute sinus infections last between four and 12 weeks, while chronic sinus infections last over 12 weeks. If someone has recurrent sinus infections, then she has several sinus infections within a year.
Sinus infections can cause several different symptoms. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases notes that a common symptom of a sinus infection is pain, and the location of the pain can pinpoint which sinus is inflamed. For example, if a person has pain in her teeth and upper jaw, then the maxillary sinuses are inflamed. Inflamed sphenoid sinuses can result in neck pain and deep achiness in the top of the person’s head. Pain in the forehead can result from a sinus infection in the frontal sinuses, which pain between the eyes can come from inflamed ethmoid sinuses. People who have an acute sinus infection are more likely to experience pain than people who have a chronic sinus infection.
Nasal discharge can occur with a sinus infection. Some people experience these secretions draining in the back of their throats, which is called a post-nasal drip. The nasal discharge may appear blood-tinged or a greenish, yellowish or whitish color.
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