What is a sinus infection?
Before we get into sinus infection symptoms, here’s a brief anatomy lesson from Edwin F. Williams, III, MD, FACS, president of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (who deals with a lot of noses): “The term sinusitis means inflammation or a sinus infection. There are cavities in our skull/face. A couple are right above the eye socket in the center of the forehead—these are frontalsinuses. Then we have some under the eyes and nose, which are maxillary sinuses. These are basically air cavities. No one really knows why we have them, but one theory is that if our entire skull was filled with bone, it might be too heavy. They also act as resonance chambers for sound,” he explains. “These cavities are supposed to drain into the nasal cavity through ducts. When they drain into the nasal cavity, cilia functions as escalator to keep sinuses clean. When they get blocked, you get a pool of mucus and that becomes infected. People with allergies can be predisposed to these blockages. As a facial plastic surgeon, one reason we see a lot of these blockages is a deviated septum, in which the sinus openings become narrow.”
Sinus infection symptom: Your teeth ache
Is it a cavity? A loose filling? Your wisdom teeth coming in? Or—gasp!—gum disease? What it could be is one of the easiest-to-miss sinus infection symptoms. “Dental pain is probably the most overlooked sinus infection symptom,” says Eugene Chio, MD, otolaryngologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “This is usually related to a maxillary (or cheek) sinusitis as the upper tooth roots will often extend close to the sinus.”