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Sinus Infection

The sinuses are air-filled spaces around the nose and eyes.  Sinusitis occurs when fluid builds up in the sinuses.  Both bacteria and viruses can cause sinusitis (viruses are up to 200 times more common).  Sinusitis most often occurs after a cold but most colds do not lead to bacterial sinusitis.  The symptoms of sinusitis are more severe and last longer than a cold.


  • Facial pain or pressure, headache, toothache, feeling tired, cough, fever.
  • Blocked nose with yellow or green nasal discharge that lasts for more than 10 days.


  • Use salt water drops or spray to help relieve nasal discharge.  See Cold/Runny Nose.
  • Decongestants can relieve stuffiness but will not shorten the length of the illness.  NOTE:  Do not give these products to infants or children under the age of six years without first talking with your doctor.  NOTE:  Decongestants might also contain fever reducing medication.  Read labels carefully and check with your pharmacist or doctor to avoid overdosing.
  • Use a cool mist humidifier.
  • For further information on Fever, please see More Fever Links.

When to seek medical attention:

Children:  See your doctor if your child. . .

  • Develops a fever again, 7 – 10  days after a cold or flu like illness.
  • Has yellow or green nasal discharge lasting longer than 10 days.
  • Has constant facial pain

NOTE:  Cold symptoms that reoccur and are associated with a clear discharge indicate a new cold, not sinusitis.  A visit to the doctor is not needed – follow treatment for a cold.

Adults:  Adults should consult their doctor, nurse practitioner or provincial health help line if symptoms worsen or are unusually severe.

When to Worry about your child

Go to the emergency department if you or your child has any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever and swelling around and above the eyes
  • Trouble breathing not caused by a stuffy nose