Sinus Infections

Does a Sinus Infection Cause Fever?

August 9, 2021

5 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

If you’re trying to self-diagnose your symptoms, you might find yourself asking, “does a sinus infection cause fever?”

A fever is a common response to any type of infection in the body, including a sinus infection, but typically only if you have acute sinusitis. Sinusitis fever isn’t a common symptom of chronic sinus infections.

Read more to learn about other sinus infection symptoms, what is considered a fever, how to tell the difference between a cold and a sinus infection, and why you shouldn’t leave your chronic sinusitis untreated.

Sinus infection symptoms

Sinusitis is usually the result of a viral or bacterial infection. When the lining of your sinuses become inflamed, they block mucus from moving through your body as normal. That mucus is carrying everything from viruses to fungus and other irritants out of your body. Once its movement slows down in your system, germs can grow, and you start experiencing all sorts of frustrating symptoms.

Here are the early signs of sinus infection:

Sinus pressure and tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones: Your sinuses are located below your eyes, behind the upper cheekbones, up to your forehead and behind your eyes. When your sinuses are infected, the swelling creates pressure or pain around your eyes and cheekbones. It is sometimes described as a feeling of “heaviness.”

Postnasal drip: When you’re congested, the mucus secretions slowly drip down the back of your throat, causing irritation, cough or a sore throat.

Discolored, yellow or green mucus: As your body fights off the infection, the dead white blood cells and other foreign invaders get caught in your mucus, causing the green snot color. Keep an eye out for your sinus infection mucus color.

Cough: The postnasal drip caused by sinus infection can trigger a cough. If you find yourself coughing up a lot of discolored mucus, this is a good indication that you have more than the common cold.

Sinusitis fever: A fever of 100.4 degrees or higher is typically indicative that your body is fighting off an infection. Your body warms itself up in an attempt to kill off the virus or bacteria causing the infection. Which may leave you wondering, “can you have an infection without a fever?” Yes, you can. A fever, or lack thereof, can be a good indicator of what type of infection you have. 

What is considered a real fever?

Your normal body temperature sits somewhere in the 97 to 99 range. If you have a temperature of 100.4 or higher, you have a low-grade fever. A temperature higher than 103 is considered “high” and requires immediate medical attention.

With acute sinusitis, you’ll typically only see a low-grade fever. Fevers are not commonly a symptom of chronic sinusitis.

To treat a low-grade fever, you can try:

  • Over the counter (OTC) painkillers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • Taking a warm bath
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Use cold compresses

The difference between a common cold and a sinus infection

There is a large crossover between the symptoms of a cold and a sinus infection, making it confusing to self-diagnose. In both a cold and sinusitis, you might experience postnasal drip, low-grade fevers, headaches, fatigue, a cough, congestion, etc. Outside of the sinus pressure and green snot that is suggestive of sinusitis, the main difference is the recovery time.

Your cold should go away within 10 days, maximum. So, how long does a sinus infection last

If you have a common cold that lasts longer than two weeks, you might actually have a sinus infection. Acute sinus infections can last up to four weeks. If your sinus infection lasts for more than 12 weeks without any relief, you should schedule an appointment to see your doctor.

What happens if sinus infection goes untreated? 

Untreated sinus infections might seem like nothing to be concerned about. Sinusitis is often disregarded as being an inconvenience but nothing to worry about. While this is true if your infection is treated properly, there are some dangerous complications if it is left untreated including:

  • Decreased or complete loss of smell (hyposmia)
  • Cyst-like mass formed when sinuses are unable to drain mucus (paranasal sinus mucocele)
  • Spread of infection to other parts of the body
  • Sinus infection can spread to the eyes (orbital cellulitis)
  • Meningitis
  • Brain abscess
  • Blood clot behind the eyes causing droopy eyes, vision loss, seizures, etc. (sinus thrombosis)

Continue reading: Is a sinus infection contagious?

When should you go to the doctors for a sinus infection? 

If you have been suffering from frequent or chronic sinusitis, don’t let it go untreated. Balloon Sinuplasty may be the best treatment option for you.

Dr. Kaplan and his staff at Kaplan Sinus Relief have a reputation for providing excellent balloon sinuplasty in Houston. The procedure is minimally invasive, done in-office, and helps with a variety of sinus issues for long-term relief.

Are you ready to put chronic sinusitis in your past? Request an appointment to see if balloon sinuplasty is the right treatment option for you. 

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