Acute Frontal Sinusitis

Written by Brindles Lee Macon | Published on July 25, 2012
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD

What Is Acute Frontal Sinusitis?

When the sinus cavities behind your forehead become inflamed, it is known as acute frontal sinusitis. Sinuses can become inflamed if the mucous membranes produce too much mucus. Infections and other health conditions can also sometimes cause acute frontal sinusitis.

What Causes Acute Frontal Sinusitis?

Your sinuses do several things. They make your head feel lighter. They filter dust particles and other irritants from the air you breathe. They also provide sound for your voice. When your sinuses become infected or inflamed, these functions change.

The main cause of acute frontal sinusitis is mucus buildup. But several factors may increase the amount of mucus your frontal sinuses produce.


Your sinuses are filled with tiny hairs called cilia that help block organisms from entering the sinuses. Unfortunately these cilia are not 100 percent effective. Bacteria can still enter your nose and travel to the sinus cavities. If they do, they can stick to the sinus membranes and multiply rapidly.


Viruses are tough organisms that can cause infections in your body. When you have a cold or flu virus, it increases the amount of mucus your sinuses produce. That makes them more likely to clog and become inflamed.

Nasal Polyps

Polyps are abnormal growths in your body. Polyps in the frontal sinuses may block the sinuses from filtering air and increase the amount of mucus buildup. They may also prevent mucus from draining normally.

Deviated Nasal Septum

People who have a deviated nasal septum can not breathe equally through both sides of their nose. A lack of proper air circulation can cause inflammation if the tissues of the frontal sinuses become compromised.

Who Is at Risk for Acute Frontal Sinusitis?

Risk factors for acute frontal sinusitis include:

  • frequent colds
  • allergic reactions
  • smoking tobacco products
  • enlarged adenoids (tonsils)
  • weak immune system
  • fungal infections

What are the Symptoms of Acute Frontal Sinusitis?

Pain is the most common symptom of acute frontal sinusitis. Other symptoms may vary in severity depending on the type of inflammation or infection. They include:

  • nasal discharge
  • feeling of pressure behind the eyes
  • inability to smell
  • cough that gets worse during the night
  • feeling unwell (malaise)
  • a mild or high fever
  • tiredness
  • sore throat
  • unpleasant or sour breath

Children may have all of the above symptoms plus the following:

  • a cold that worsens
  • discharge that is unusual in color
  • high fever

Diagnosing Acute Frontal Sinusitis

Your family doctor may refer you to an ear, nose, and throat doctor (ENT). This specialist will check your nasal cavity for signs of polyps and inflammation. The doctor may also take samples of your mucus to look for infection.

Other tests include:

  • nasal endoscopy to look inside your sinus and nasal cavities
  • imaging tests with a CT scan or MRI
  • allergy tests
  • blood tests for other possible causes of sinusitis

Treating Acute Frontal Sinusitis

Your treatment depends on whether your sinusitis is caused by bacteria, polyps, or some other factor.

Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat bacterial infections. (Viral infections do not respond to antibiotic treatment.)

Surgery can be used to repair a deviated septum.

Nasal sprays can relieve congestion and pressure in the frontal sinuses.

Over-the-counter pain relievers may be used if your doctor advises you to do so. However, children should not be given aspirin. It can cause a deadly condition known as Reye’s syndrome.

Pain medications may be prescribed when over-the-counter options are ineffective.

Prognosis: What Is to Be Expected in the Long Term?

Most acute sinusitis symptoms begin to disappear within a few days of treatment. However, you should always take all prescribed medications as instructed. It may take several weeks before the problem completely clears.


You can help prevent problems in your sinuses by practicing good hygiene. For example, wash your hands before eating and after using the bathroom. Be cognizant of what you touch during the day. Make sure to wash your hands before touching your face.

Drink plenty of water and eat healthy foods to keep your immune system strong and functioning properly. Staying hydrated can also help your mucus drain.

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Show Sources

  • MD, R. C. (n.d.). Deviated Nasal Septum. NYU Langone Medical Center. Retrieved April 8, 2012, from

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