Sinus infection - symptoms, treatment and home remedies

Sinusitis causes and therapy
An inflammation of the frontal sinus, in the technical language called frontal sinusitis, is a form of the sinus infection. The paired nasal sinuses include the maxillary sinuses (maxillary sinus), the sphenoid sinuses (sphenoid sinus), the frontal sinuses (frontal sinus) and the ethmoid cells (ethmoid cellules). The term sinusitis is often used in colloquial terms to mean inflammation of the frontal sinus, which, when translated correctly, actually means inflammation of the sinus.

Anatomy and physiology of the paranasal sinuses

The four paranasal sinuses connect to the nasal cavity. They represent cavities that are lined with mucous membrane. These have mucus-forming cells and cilia. The finest hairs move rhythmically on the moist mucous membrane. The inhaled air is constantly moistened and cleaned of foreign matter that has entered. If pathogens, such as viruses or bacteria, hit the mucous membrane, the blood flow to the mucosa increases and the vessels expand to make it easier for the immune cells to find their way to the focus of infection. Due to the inflammation, the glands produce more mucus, which is usually thin at first, but can become increasingly tough later.

Acute or chronic inflammation of the frontal sinuses

Acute inflammation of the frontal sinus is usually preceded by an acute runny nose, in which the passages of the frontal sinuses are narrowed due to viscous secretion and swollen nasal mucosa.

Chronic frontal sinus infection usually develops from the acute form, especially when it has not completely healed. Favorable factors for this are allergies in the ear-nose area, anatomical peculiarities, such as a crooked nasal septum or a weakened immune system. If sinusitis spreads to all sinuses, this is called pansinusitis.

Symptoms of sinusitis

If you have a cold, the mucous membrane in the nose swells, triggered by viruses or bacteria. Due to the inflammatory stimulus, the goblet cells produce more mucus. As long as the secretion that is formed is still thin, it can flow out to some extent. However, if this becomes viscous, the outflow is blocked, the pathogens multiply and then migrate upwards into the frontal sinuses.

In addition to the general symptoms of cold, head or forehead pain is associated with frontal sinusitis, which can be very massive, especially when stooping. Sometimes there is a constant feeling of pressure in the head. The disease is often accompanied by cheek pain and pain in the upper jaw, whereby chewing often causes considerable discomfort. Fever can also occur, as can poor general health, dizziness and hearing impairment. In some cases, taste and smell even suffer.

Chronic forms are usually febrile. However, those affected suffer from a constantly blocked nose and a feeling of pressure in the head area.

Frontal sinus infections in children

The nasal sinuses in infants are not yet fully developed. The maxillary sinuses and ethmoid cells are present at birth. The sphenoid sinuses and the frontal sinuses develop only in the course of childhood.

Inflammation of the frontal sinuses usually only occurs after the age of eight. The symptoms are runny nose, sore throat, feeling of pressure and pain in the area of ​​the eyes and temples. This is often accompanied by an irritable cough, triggered by the constant mucus that is located along the throat wall. The pain is aggravated by coughing, blowing your nose and stooping. There may be a fever.

Causes of inflamed sinuses

Usually all sinuses should be well ventilated. If the frontal sinus becomes inflamed, this is not the case. The swelling of the mucous membranes can hinder the drainage of the secretion, whereby a normal runny nose is usually over after a few days.

If the inflammation does not subside, the pathogens multiply, which in this case are mostly bacteria. The pathogens move further into the frontal sinuses and can also trigger an infection there. Here, a protracted, not cured runny nose is the cause of frontal sinus infection.

Other possible causes of frontal sinusitis include allergies, a crooked nasal septum, lymphatic overgrowth (such as polyps) or even recurrent inflammation in the tooth structure.


A runny nose that has been around for a long time, viscous secretions, headaches and facial pains raise suspicions of sinus infections. When tapping the forehead area, most of those affected react with a headache, and stooping also causes a feeling of pressure in the head.

All of this indicates a frontal sinus. A swab, in which some secretion is removed from the nose with the help of a cotton swab, allows the laboratory to find out which bacteria are the culprits. The choice of antibiotic is based on this.

If the desired success is not achieved during the treatment, a rhinoscopy is usually arranged. This is a nasal reflection in which a flexible tube with a light source and a camera is inserted into the nose and the diseased mucous membranes can be closely observed. With the help of rhinoscopy, constrictions but also tumors can be recognized.

To take a closer look at the sinuses, a CT (computed tomography) is necessary. This is an X-ray examination, in which slice images of the affected area are taken. If the cause is an allergy, an allergy test, for example the prick test, is carried out to identify the triggering allergen.

Conventional therapy

As a general rule, the patient should be careful, as with a cold. Keeping warm and avoiding cold are equally important. Even if the symptoms have subsided and the person feels good, make sure to wear suitable clothing such as a hat, headband and thick socks.

Suitable nasal drops are prescribed to make the nasal mucosa swell. If bacteria are the cause of sinus infection, an antibiotic is the treatment of choice. So-called mucolytics also help, which are medications that are intended to liquefy the mucus. Daily inhalation is recommended to patients. Those affected are encouraged to drink enough fluids to prevent the mucus from sticking.

In rare cases, recurrent or chronic inflammation requires surgery. For example, if there is a massive curvature of the nasal septum or large nasal polyps (benign mucosal growths).

Home remedies for sinus infections

Those affected are recommended healthy, vitamin-rich food and hydration in the form of still water or tea. Enzymes are accelerators in the most diverse metabolic processes in the body. They have an anti-viral and antibacterial effect. Pineapple, mango and papaya contain a large amount of these metabolism accelerators. The positive effect of the enzymes is known and thus they are administered in tablet form in the treatment of frontal sinusitis. Daily inhalation with sea salt supports every therapy. Sea salt-based nose drops are also used.

A edition with horseradish can be very helpful. For this, a fresh horseradish root is grated and the mass is then spread about one centimeter thick in the middle of a cotton cloth (e.g. dish towel). Now the sides of the cloth are wrapped so that a flat compress is created. Place this on your forehead for five minutes.

A proven home remedy for headaches in frontal sinus infections is peppermint essential oil, which is gently massaged into the painful areas. However, this should never be applied directly to the skin in pure form, since it can otherwise cause massive skin irritation. In babies and toddlers under three years of age, the oil must not be used at all due to possible serious health problems (larynx cramp, shortness of breath). To avoid skin irritation, it is advisable to dilute approx. 10 drops of the oil with two tablespoons of carrier oil (e.g. almond, jojoba or olive oil). The oil mixture is then applied to the forehead and temples and can relieve the pain there within a few minutes.

A steam bath with chamomile has an anti-inflammatory effect and helps to drain stuck mucus from the blocked sinuses. Place a handful of chamomile flowers in a bowl and pour about three liters of boiling water over them. Now hold your head over the bowl, cover yourself and the jar with a large towel and inhale the steam for about ten minutes.

Naturopathy for sinusitis

In the case of uncomplicated diseases, naturopathic treatment usually responds quite well. But even with severe inflammation of the frontal sinuses, alternative treatment methods accompanying conventional medicine can be used to alleviate and thus shorten the course of the disease.

Homeopathy recommends remedies such as Cinnabaris (red vermilion) if there is viscous mucus, hydrastis (Canadian turmeric) for headache and thick green secretions, loofah (pumpkin sponges) when the nasal mucosa is dry, but also for sticky colds. Chronic inflammation is treated in homeopathy with the individually chosen constitutional remedy.

Schüssler salts, which are recommended for this disease, are No. 1 Calcium fluoratum D12, No. 3 Ferrum phosphoricum D12, No. 4 Potassium chloratum D6, No. 6 Potassium sulfuricum D6 and No. 11 Silicea.

An age-old method, fairly unknown, but helpful, is nasal reflex therapy. Certain reflex points of the nasal mucosa are massaged with a cotton swab dipped in nasal reflex oil. However, this is a treatment that should only be used on patients who are not sensitive or even allergic to the ingredients in the oil.

Phytotherapy (herbal medicine) has many resources at hand that are helpful for inflamed sinuses. Examples include primrose and ivy, which liquefy the viscous secretion. Furthermore, nasturtium and horseradish, both of which have an antibiotic effect, are said to have a positive effect on frontal sinus infections.

Neural therapy is a form of therapy that is often used, especially in chronic forms. Subcutaneous (under the skin) injections with a local anesthetic and / or a naturopathic preparation are administered in acupuncture points or nerve exit points in the area of ​​the paranasal sinuses.

With recurrent inflammation of the sinuses, many naturopaths treat with their own blood therapy. The blood drawn from the body and then reinjected increases the immune system and causes a vegetative change.

In the case of chronic or repetitive inflammation of the frontal sinuses, the cause must be investigated. The cause of this is often a disturbed intestinal flora, which can be brought back into balance with the help of microbiological therapy (build up intestinal flora).

The reflexology therapy involves the whole organism in the treatment. So it is not symptomatic, but causal. This is a helpful form of naturopathic treatment, especially for chronic processes. (sw)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Susanne Waschke, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


  • German Society for General Medicine and Family Medicine (DEGAM) and German Society for Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery: S2k Guideline Rhinosinusitis, as of April 2017, detailed view of guidelines
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  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Sinus Infection (Sinusitis) (access: July 31, 2019), cdc.gov

ICD codes for this disease: J01, J32ICD codes are internationally valid encodings for medical diagnoses. You can find e.g. in doctor's letters or on disability certificates.

Video: Natural Remedies for Sinus Infections (November 2021).