The sinuses are pockets of mucous membranes around the face, most notably close to your nose. The exact number of them can vary from one person to the next, without any disadvantages to having fewer.

Most of the time, you won't even be aware that your sinuses exist, but sometimes they can become inflamed, a condition known as sinusitis that can occur when you have a cold or the flu. Ordinarily, this isn't something to worry about, as it just causes a bit of discomfort for a week or so before going away on its own.

If sinusitis becomes chronic and won't just clear up without medical help. The exact nature of the treatment needed varies, but you may require medication or an operation. Your first step should be to see your doctor for a diagnosis if you have these symptoms for more than a week with no sign of improvement, or if they're getting steadily worse.

Nasal discharge

Although a certain amount of nasal discharge is to be expected when you have a cold, with sinusitis, it may be more severe and will stick around after the other cold symptoms have passed. There's no specific colour associated with the problem, so any unusual nasal discharge should be cause for concern.


As they're in your skull, having inflamed sinuses causes persistent headaches and a feeling of pressure in the face. These symptoms might be concentrated around the top of the nose, the cheekbones, and around the eyes. They might also get worse when you lean forward, as the blood flow increases the pressure.

High temperature

If you're having other symptoms of sinusitis, you should monitor your temperature closely. If it stays at the high end or above the normal range, or you develop a fever, you should see a doctor as soon as you can.

Impaired sense of smell or taste

Inflamed sinuses block some of the airflow, which can make it more difficult to smell things properly. This can also affect taste, so pay attention when you're eating food, too.

Bad breath

Because mucus drains into your throat, an infection can make your breath smell unpleasant. Bad breath that won't go away with normal oral hygiene may be a sign of sinusitis.

Do you have sinusitis often?

If you seem to get these problems a lot, even if they don't last a long time, it's a good idea to see a doctor. Medical treatments like operating to improve sinus drainage can stop frequent sinusitis and improve your quality of life significantly.