When you experience a sudden onset of sinus pain and pressure, there are various potential causes for these symptoms. It’s important to understand why your sinuses are acting up so that you can identify a treatment that will work with the root cause to alleviate the symptoms.
It can be debilitating to have these symptoms set in quickly. As the facial pressure, pain, and headache build, you probably feel an urgent need for relief.
Here are a few things to know about sinus issues, giving you insight into what is causing the symptoms and how you can alleviate the pain.
What Causes Sudden Sinus Pressure?
When the symptoms start suddenly and unexpectedly, then it means that something triggered a response in your sinus tissues. Congestion can set in quickly as the body tries to flush the system. Additionally, it can result in swelling of the sinus tissues, which can limit or stop sinus drainage.
Keep in mind that the sinuses are open cavities in your facial area – there are 8 total. These hollow spaces have a normal production of mucus that protects you from pollutants, such as allergens and dust.
These sinuses have natural drainage pathways that help the mucus to keep moving. But if one or more drainage pathways are blocked, it causes a backlog of mucus. The result is building pressure and a dull ache behind your cheekbones or eyes.
The most common cause of sinus blockages is swollen sinus tissue. This swelling happens because of specific triggers, such as environmental factors, seasonal allergies, smoke exposure, dry air, illness, or anything else causing irritation in the sinus areas.
Is it a Sinus Infection?
It’s important to consider all of the symptoms to determine the underlying cause of your sinus discomfort.
For example, the clear, runny nasal discharge could be caused by seasonal allergies. As the nose keeps running, it can cause irritation in the sinuses and lead to other symptoms as well.
If you notice that the sinus symptoms are more than just sinus pressure but also include fever, yellow or green mucus, nasal congestion, and more, it could be caused by a sinus infection. This infection is likely caused by either a virus or bacteria.
Pay attention to how long the symptoms last. Most viral infections will clear up with at-home treatments within about a week. But bacterial sinus infections typically require antibiotic treatment to clear up the infection.
So, if the symptoms last longer than a week, it’s a good indicator that you should call an ENT for treatment.
Typical Symptoms of Sinus Issues
Depending on the cause of the problem and potential underlying factors, there are different ways that your sinuses can act up. Here are some of the most common symptoms of sinus issues.
- Runny nose – clear discharge
- Discolored, thick discharge coming from the nose
- Nasal inflammation
- Inability to breathe through the nose
- Postnasal drip – drainage down the back of the throat
- Stuffy, congested nose
- Tenderness, pain, or swelling in the facial area
- Decreased sense of taste or smell
- Facial pressure increases when you lean over
- Aching in the teeth or upper jaw
- Coughing or clearing the throat frequently
- Headache or pressure in the head
Every patient is unique. You might be experiencing one or two of these symptoms. Or, with severe sinus issues, you might be experiencing most of the symptoms on the list.
Most Common Causes of Sinus Issues
Keep in mind that sinus symptoms are often similar, regardless of the underlying cause. But it’s important to diagnose the root cause so you can find a treatment that works to alleviate your symptoms.
An ENT can complete specific tests and an examination to learn more about your symptoms. Then this information helps identify the cause of sinus pain and pressure. The next step is to design a treatment plan that will help you feel better.
Here is a quick overview of some of the most common causes of sinus symptoms.
- Respiratory Tract Infection: Either a viral or bacterial infection. Sometimes, it can start as a viral illness. Then a bacterial sinus infection occurs as a secondary infection. Most of the time, it is caused by the common cold.
- Nasal Polyps: The presence of these tissue growths can cause blockages in the sinuses or nasal passages, increasing the risk of infection and drainage issues.
- Allergies: Exposure to allergens in the environment can increase the likelihood of sinus issues. You might be having an allergic reaction to pollen, dust, animals, or other elements in the air.
- Medical Conditions: Certain health issues can increase the risk of sinus infections and symptoms. For example, diseases affecting the immune system make it more likely to experience infections like HIV, cystic fibrosis, and more.
Are You at Risk for Sinus Problems?
How often do you experience sinus discomfort or sinus infections? There are different risk factors that increase the likelihood of these sinus issues.
- Fungal infection
- Bacterial infection
- Regular exposure to irritants, such as cigarette smoke
- Seasonal allergies
- Dental infections
- Fungal infections
- Nasal polyps
Are Sinus Issues an Urgent Health Concern?
Mild sinus issues will often clear up on their own within about a week. If you know what is causing the irritation, then it’s important to avoid these known triggers whenever possible.
But if you notice that the symptoms are continuing, getting worse, or recurring, then it’s a good sign that you should talk to an ENT for personalized treatment.
It’s rare to experience serious complications from sinus infections. But complications are possible. So, don’t hesitate to reach out to an ENT for diagnosis and treatment options. The doctor can help you understand the most effective plan to avoid these potential complications.
- Spreading Infection: If the infection is left untreated, it can spread to other issues. A worst-case scenario is that the infection will affect the spinal cord and brain (meningitis). Or the infection can move to the skin, bones, and more.
- Vision Problems: In the rare situation that the infection moves into the eye area, then it can interrupt your vision. This blindness can be potentially permanent because it is irreversible damage.
Call an ENT for a Sinus Consultation
You don’t need to live with sinus problems. Suppose you are experiencing acute pain or chronic symptoms that seem to never go away. In that case, we invite you to schedule an examination and consultation with one of our experienced ENTs.
These ear, nose, and throat services are available for people of all ages in the Collin County and Dallas neighborhoods. Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat is a leading provider in the local area, with Frisco and Plano, TX, offices. Enter your information on our online form, or you can also schedule an appointment by calling our office: (972) 596-4005.