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Signs & Symptoms of a Maxillary Sinus Infection

author image Kathleen Blanchard, R.N.
Kathleen Blanchard is a registered nurse, with more than 10 years of experience in cardiovascular health, emergency room and ICU. She writes professionally for and Blanchard is currently employed as a senior case manager and has held certification as a critical care registered nurse (CCRN), advanced trauma life support (ATLS), and advanced cardiac life support (ACLS).
Signs & Symptoms of a Maxillary Sinus Infection
Signs & Symptoms of a Maxillary Sinus Infection

Sinus infections can occur from virus, fungus or bacteria, and from inflammation caused by allergy or abnormal growths. Signs and symptoms of a maxillary sinus infection can appear suddenly and resolve on their own, or can become chronic and require treatment. When the sinus becomes infected, or irritated from allergy, it is called sinusitis. Signs and symptoms of maxillary sinus infection can mimic toothache or migraine headache. Recognizing a maxillary sinus infection and understanding when to seek treatment is important to prevent serious illness.

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Common Symptoms

The maxillary sinuses are located under the eyes, at the cheekbones. It is the most common place for a sinus infection. The goal of relieving symptoms is to get the sinuses to drain. The most common symptoms are pain in the cheekbones, and feelings of pressure. The sinuses normally contain air. When they become swollen and inflamed, the increased pressure in the sinus cavity causes pain. Inflammation can make it difficult to breathe through the nose.

Other Symptoms

Other signs and symptoms of maxillary sinus infection include fever, redness and swelling around the eye and cheek area, and pain around the upper teeth. Your teeth may even be sensitive to chewing. Symptoms can occur on one side, or both, and are relieved when lying down. Post nasal drip and cough are possible, as the sinus or sinuses drain into the back of the throat, causing irritation. Yellow or green nasal discharge might be present. Fatigue, loss of smell, and halitosis can also be indicative of a sinus infection.

When to Seek Help

Maxillary sinus infections can extend into the other sinus cavities. A splitting headache, tearing, swelling around the eyes, and redness of the skin around the eyes (periorbital cellulitis), fever, chills and changes in vision can mean a sinus infection is spreading. Treatment from a physician should not be delayed. Swelling around the eye is serious, and could rapidly lead to blindness.

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