The sinuses are small, empty spaces behind your cheekbones and forehead. They connect to the inside of the nose.

Sinusitis causes the lining of the sinuses to swell up. This stops mucus from draining into your nose and throat properly, making you feel blocked up.

Sinusitis is usually caused by an infection. Sinusitis is common after a cold or the flu. It's common and usually clears up on its own within 2 to 3 weeks.

Symptoms of sinusitis include:

  • pain, swelling and tenderness around your cheeks, eyes or forehead

  • a blocked nose

  • reduced sense of smell

  • green or yellow mucus from your nose

  • a sinus headache

  • a high temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or above

  • toothache

  • bad breath

    You can often treat mild sinusitis without seeing a GP by:

  • getting plenty of rest

  • drinking plenty of fluids

  • taking painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen

  • holding a warm clean flannel over your face for a few minutes several times a day

  • cleaning your nose with a salt water solution to ease congestion

A pharmacist can advise you about medicines that can help, such as:

  • decongestant nasal sprays, drops or tablets to unblock your nose

  • salt water nasal sprays or solutions to rinse out the inside of your nose

You can buy nasal sprays without a prescription, but decongestant nasal sprays should not be used for more than a week.

Some decongestant tablets also contain paracetamol or ibuprofen. Be careful when taking painkillers and a decongestant. Do not take more than the recommended dose.

Contact a GP if:

  • your symptoms are severe

  • painkillers don't help or your symptoms get worse

  • your symptoms don't improve after a week

  • you keep getting sinusitis

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