Signs & Symptoms of Sinus Drainage


Sinuses are the empty cavity areas located above our eyebrows, beneath our eyes, and behind our noses. When those air-filled areas become inflamed due to a cold, bacteria, infection, or allergic reaction, we can suffer the inability to breath or smell through our nose, or to even taste our food. When the sinuses begin to drain, we experience relief from sinusitis, since the mucous discharge is clearing out.

Sinusitis defined

When the sinuses (air-filled cavities) located in our skull become infected or inflamed, it is known as sinusitis. Sinusitis symptoms can mimic the common cold, since nasal congestion is a symptom of both; however, a cold will generally last no more than seven days, and then symptoms will begin to disappear, not to recur until another cold is experienced.

Types and symptoms of drainage at onset of sinusitis

There are two types of sinusitis (acute and chronic), and the typical signs and symptoms of sinus drainage at the beginning of sinusitis, as well at the end of it, are common to both. Drainage of the sinuses occurs at the beginning of the condition, as well as at the end of it. Initially, the drainage is indicative that there is some type of infection or adverse reaction taking place in the skull area, so pressure in the face around the cavity area, nausea, headache, ear pain, bad breath, and fever are symptoms that might occur.

Drainage symptoms after treatment is started

Once medication or treatment has begun for the sinus problem, drainage will follow again, but this time it is indicative that the sinuses are expunging the mucous that filled the affected cavities. These symptoms can include clear or thick yellow-green nasal discharge, a sore throat (due to the drainage in the throat), lessening of pressure to the face in the sinus cavity areas (above or below the eyes, behind the nose), and the ability to begin breathing through the nose again (at least one nostril), once the sinuses begin to drain.

Acute sinusitis

Considered the lesser problematic of the two, acute sinusitis is generally more short-term in duration than chronic sinusitis and may only appear once or twice in a year, if that much, since it usually occurs due to a cold. However, there are other reasons that cause acute sinusitis: bacteria, fungus, mold, hay fever, allergies, and even a deviated septum.

And as these problems go away, or surgery is performed (as in a deviated septum), the acute sinusitis also disappears--sometimes permanently (after surgery, at least).

Chronic sinusitis

Nasal polyps, as well as the aforementioned causes of acute sinusitis, can all also be causes of chronic sinusitis. And whereas the acute sinusitis sufferer might possibly experience more than one occurrence of acute sinusitis, more than one episode is frequently the case when chronic sinusitis occurs.

In fact, not only is it more likely that the sufferers of chronic sinusitis will experience this problem more than once a year, they will also likely suffer a longer duration of it—sometimes as much as eight weeks in length.


If your sinusitis continues longer than seven days, your symptoms are not improving (especially if you have seen a doctor and are taking medication), or if this problem is continuing to occur frequently throughout the year, you should consult your physician to determine if the infection has worsened.

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