Most sinus infections are the result of other problems - viruses, allergies, staph infections, etc. Any of these problems can damage the sinus-lining enough that it becomes inflamed and swollen. The swelling blocks off the passages that should be allowing bacteria to escape. Instead, the bacteria fills up the sinuses, causes more inflammation, and causes pressure.

Because there are several sets of sinuses, there are several different sorts of infection. The pressure they cause can be felt either in the forehead, across the cheek bones, on ths side of the nose, or behind the eyes. They usually include plenty of nasal and postnasal dripping, and many sinus infections include fevers, swelling, sore throats, and even double vision. Double vision comes if the infection is putting pressure on the brain, while sore throats result from infections in lower sinuses. All are uncomfortable, miserable places to be sick.

If you start having symptoms that indicate something more severe is going on (double vision is one good one - pressure on the brain is never really a good thing), you should seek medical attention. However, there are a few things you can try at home to try to clear things up.

  • As with most illnesses, drinking liquids if a good idea. However, in this case, it's to promote drainage and relieve pressure more than to flush the system. Breathing lots of steam (as from a shower or just from a boiling pot of water) can also help to clear the clogged passages and help with drainage.
  • Expectorants help to loosen up the mucus that is clogging everything up and allow it to come out.
  • Pain relievers not only help with the headaches and other aches that result from sinus infections, but can also reduce the inflammation that is blocking off the passages.
  • Decongestants are another good way to clear out the mucus causing pressure in the various cavities of your head.

If you suffer from very frequent sinus infections, it's a good idea to see a doctor. In some cases, sinuses become infected more often because of other influences, including tumors and diverted septums, and can be corrected fairly easily.