An Inside Look at Sinus Infections

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"The Healthy Geezer" answers about health and aging in his weekly column

Question: Can a sinus infection cause a toothache?

Answer: Yes. Sinusitis is a nasty malady that can do much more than give you a toothache. An infection in the sinuses, which are located in your cheekbones, can cause your upper jaw and teeth to ache, and your cheeks to become tender to the touch.

The sinuses are four pairs of cavities. There are the frontal sinuses over the eyes; the maxillary sinuses inside each cheekbone; the ethmoid sinuses just behind the bridge of the nose; and the sphenoid sinuses, which are behind the ethmoids. Each sinus is connected to the nose.

Most cases of acute sinusitis start with a cold or allergy attack, which inflames the mucous membranes of the sinuses. Swelling traps air and mucus in the sinuses and, as a result, they can't drain properly. The trapped mucus creates ideal conditions for bacteria to grow.

Most people with sinusitis have pain or tenderness. Other symptoms of sinusitis can include fever, weakness, fatigue, nasal congestion, cough and sore throat.

If you have acute sinusitis, your doctor may prescribe decongestants, antibiotics and pain relievers. However, many cases of acute sinusitis will clear up without antibiotics.

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All rights reserved © 2012 by Fred Cicetti

Fred Cicetti is a contributing writer for Live Science who specializes in health. He has been writing professionally since 1963. Before he began freelancing, he was a reporter, rewriteman and columnist for three daily newspapers in New Jersey: The Newark News, Newark Star-Ledger and Morristown Record. He has written two published novels:" Saltwater Taffy—A Summer at the Jersey Shore," and "Local Angles—Big News in Small Towns."