Call your doctor if
sinusitis does not improve after 2 days of home
treatment and you have symptoms such as:
- Pain in the face or upper
- Pain extending from the bridge of the nose to the lower
- Headache that is not relieved by taking acetaminophen or aspirin. (Do not give
aspirin to anyone younger than 20 because of the risk of Reye syndrome).
- Fever of
101°F (38.3°C) or
- Nasal discharge that starts out clear and later becomes
thick and discolored (yellow or green).
- Cold symptoms that last longer than 10 days or
get worse after the first 7 days.
- Mild or chronic pain in the
face that lasts longer than a month, has changed, or has not been checked by a
- Not feeling any better within 3 to 5 days after starting antibiotics for your sinus infection. You may need to try a different
antibiotic or add medicine to
your treatment that will reduce swelling.
If you are not sure whether you have a cold or a sinus
infection, see the topic
Facial Problems, Noninjury.
Watchful waiting is appropriate if you have
symptoms of an early sinus infection (such as pain and pressure in your head
along with a stuffy or runny nose). An early sinus infection can often be
treated at home if you are in good health. If you develop symptoms of a sinus
infection, start home treatment, such as drinking lots of fluids and breathing
steam from a warm shower, and use the guidelines above to decide whether you
need to call a doctor.
Who to see
Sinusitis may be
diagnosed by any of the following health professionals:
Your doctor may refer you to an
ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist (also called an
otolaryngologist) who can provide a more specialized
examination of the nasal passages and upper throat. Referral to an ENT
specialist may be beneficial for people in whom nasal polyps or other
conditions causing blockage of the nasal cavity are suspected. Diagnosis and
surgical treatment of chronic or complicated cases of sinusitis may be done by
an ENT specialist.
infectious disease specialist may be needed when
sinusitis is caused by something unusual or when rare
complications (such as an infection of the facial
bones) occur. An
allergist may be needed when allergies are suspected
to be causing or contributing to sinus problems.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.