Close look on ethmoid sinusitis

Ethmoid sinusitis is infection of the ethmoid sinuses which are air-filled cavities which are located close to the tear ducts in the eyes. The sinuses are responsible for filtering, cleaning and humidifying the air breathed in as well as prevent the head from becoming too heavy.

Sinusitis develops once mucus backs up in the sinuses and they become infected. This is typically triggered by the swelling of the nasal passages. Allergies or upper respiratory infections can lead to ethmoid sinusitis.

What are the causes?

Certain conditions that affect the structure of the sinuses or the flow of the nasal secretions can lead to sinusitis. The usual causes include the following:

  • Common cold
  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Allergies
  • Dental infection
  • Deviated septum
  • Nasal polyps
  • Trauma to the face and nose
  • Being exposed to secondhand smoke
  • Enlarged adenoids
    Ethmoid sinusitis

    Pain in between the eyes with tenderness when the bridge of the nose is touched.

  • Foreign objects in the nose

What are the signs and symptoms of ethmoid sinusitis?

Since the ethmoid sinuses are positioned close to the tear ducts in the eyes, there are more eye-related symptoms with this type of sinusitis.

  • Pain in between the eyes with tenderness when the bridge of the nose is touched.
  • Oftentimes, the area surrounding the eyes become swollen especially upon waking. Upon standing up, the sinuses are allowed to drain throughout the day to minimize this swelling.

The other symptoms that can manifest include the following:

  • Runny nose that lasts longer than 10 days
  • Facial swelling
  • Postnasal drip
  • Dense nasal secretions
  • Sore throat
  • Sinus headaches
  • Fever
  • Bad breath
  • Generalized malaise or fatigue
  • Cough
  • Diminished sense of taste and smell

Even though the ethmoid sinuses are affected, one might not feel pain in this area. Many individuals with the condition feel pain all over the face regardless of the sinus affected. Additionally, the maxillary and frontal sinuses drain into the ethmoid sinuses.


The treatment for ethmoid sinusitis might require various measures that ranges from home treatment to surgery in severe cases.

Home remedies

Some home remedies can alleviate the sinus pain and pressure such as the following:

  • Applying a warm compress on the face.
  • Inhalation of steam while taking a shower
  • Boil water in a pot or pan and place a towel over the head as the individual leans forward to breathe in the steam.
  • Elevate the head while sleeping to promote nasal drainage
  • Keep the body hydrated by increasing the intake of fluids to thin out the mucus
  • Irrigate the nasal passages using water or a saline nasal spray a few times throughout the day to keep the nasal passages moist.

Over-the-counter treatment

Over-the-counter pain medications can minimize the discomfort caused by ethmoid sinusitis such as aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen. For momentary relief for a runny nose, steroid nasal sprays can be used.

Prescription treatments

The doctor might prescribe antibiotics to reduce the amount of the infection-causing bacteria such as azithromycin, amoxicillin or erythromycin.


Take note that ethmoid sinusitis typically improves with the stated treatment measures. Nevertheless, if these treatments fail, surgery is the last option. Surgery might involve removal of the damaged tissue, widening of the nasal passages and correcting any anatomical irregularities such as a deviated septum or nasal polyps.



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