What Is Frontal Sinusitis?

People with frontal sinusitis normally experience pain and pressure just behind their eyes.
A cross section of the head, including the sinuses.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 15 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Frontal sinusitis is an inflammation of the frontal sinuses, cavities located above the nose and just behind the eyes. In people with frontal sinusitis, these sinus cavities become inflamed, usually as a result of the presence of microorganisms or irritants, and the patient experiences pain, an unpleasant discharge, and headaches as a result of the inflammation and blockage. There are a number of treatments available to relieve frontal sinusitis.

Patients develop frontal sinusitis when the drainage from the sinuses is impaired, most commonly as a result of overproduction of mucus. Instead of freely draining, the sinus starts to become impacted with material, making it an ideal incubator for some viruses and bacteria which like warm, moist environments. It is also possible for irritants like pollen, pet dander, and smoke to irritate the sinus, triggering overproduction of mucus and leading to a blockage of the ducts which normally drain the sinus.

Frontal sinusitis is characterized by pain and a feeling of pressure in the forehead, coughing, headache, and thick discharges from the nose. Patients may also find that they are feverish and tired. In very serious cases, patients may develop an altered level of consciousness.

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Often a general practitioner can provide treatment for frontal sinusitis. In other cases, a patient can visit an otolaryngologist, a doctor who specializes in treatment of the ears, nose, and throat. For mild cases, treatment usually includes analgesics to manage pain, decongestants to break up the mucus and allow the sinus to drain, and medications to kill the bacteria or viruses living inside the sinus. Home care techniques like applying warm compresses and standing in a steamy bathroom can also help loosen up the mucus and drain the sinus to relieve the pressure and pain.

If a patient has severe frontal sinusitis or experiences recurring episodes, it may be necessary to consider surgical treatments. In surgery, the sinuses and the ducts are reshaped to promote more even drainage. Sometimes recurrent sinusitis is also the result of an anomaly in the structure of the sinus cavity or skull and correcting this can relieve the sinus problems. Doctors will not recommend surgery unless it is deemed the best option for the patient, and the patient will be given ample opportunities to discuss the potential risks and benefits of the surgery. They may also be encouraged to seek out second opinions to confirm that surgery is a good choice and to learn more about the procedure.

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Discuss this Article

bear78
Post 3

Does anyone have an isolated frontal sinusitis? Are these very rare?

stoneMason
Post 2

@ysmina-- I had the same exact issue, sinus infections in the frontal sinuses and I did have my sinuses drained during frontal sinus surgery.

Your doctor will know best whether your sinuses need to be drained. Have you had a CT scan or an MRI?

You can definitely ask your doctor about surgery but if it's necessary, I'm sure he will tell you. It's not a difficult procedure, but it does require general anesthesia. Recovery takes from just a few days up to a week.

ysmina
Post 1

Do doctors consider sinus surgery as a last option?

I've had recurrent frontal sinusitis for more than a year. Each time the infection flares up, my doctor puts me on antibiotics, nasal sprays and sometimes steroid medications. Antibiotics seem to clear it up for several months, but it comes right back after that.

My doctor has never mentioned the possibility of surgery. But I'm getting tired of the pain, headaches and fatigue. I just want to get better.

Should I bring up sinusitis surgery with my doctor? Is surgery difficult? How long does recovery take?

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