Frontal Sinusitis – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Frontal sinusitis

Frontal sinusitis is inflammation of the frontal sinus. It is a form of sinus infection.

What is frontal sinusitis?

In frontal sinusitis , the frontal sinus is inflamed. The frontal sinus is a paranasal sinus. Inflammation of a sinus is called sinusitis. The frontal sinus is called sinus frontalis in Latin, so the inflammation of the frontal sinus is called sinusitis frontalis in medical terminology.

With a sinus infection , the mucous membrane in the paranasal sinuses is inflamed. Normally, the mucous membrane of the nose is also inflamed. A combination of inflammation of the nose and inflammation of the sinuses is called rhinosinusitis . The two frontal sinuses are located just above the nose above the eyebrows. Frontal sinusitis causes headaches in the forehead area.

Inflammation of the frontal sinus can occur in isolation or in combination with inflammation of the other paranasal sinuses. The maxillary sinuses are most commonly inflamed. Inflammation of the ethmoidal cells is also quite common. Isolated frontal sinusitis is less common.

A distinction can be made between an acute and a chronic form of frontal sinusitis. Acute sinusitis lasts a maximum of two weeks. After this time, the symptoms have completely disappeared. If the disease lasts longer than two weeks or if symptoms persist, it is chronic frontal sinusitis.


Acute suppuration of the frontal sinus usually develops from a cold (rhinitis). The swelling of the mucous membranes in the nose impedes the drainage of secretions from the frontal sinus. Only 20 to 30 percent of all sinus infections are caused by bacteria. Most are caused by viruses.

However, once a viral sinusitis has developed, pathogens such as Haemophilus infulenzae B, pneumococci or group A ß-hemolytic streptococci like to cause a secondary bacterial infection. An allergy can also cause frontal sinusitis. Chronic frontal sinusitis usually results from an acute sinus infection that has not healed.

Various factors can contribute to the fact that frontal sinusitis develops more quickly. Possible risk factors are a weakened immune system and anatomical peculiarities such as enlarged turbinates, narrowed entrances to the sinuses and a bent nasal septum.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The main symptom of acute frontal sinusitis is a headache. These are accompanied by a strong feeling of pressure in the front of the head. The pain worsens when people tilt their heads forward. The pain is also aggravated by concussions, such as when jumping or stepping firmly with one foot. The pain often throbs just above the eyebrows.

If the frontal sinusitis occurs in combination with a maxillary sinusitis, toothache can also occur. With concomitant rhinitis, a purulent yellowish-green nasal discharge develops. Nasal breathing is impeded, and a so-called “mucus street” forms in the throat. This is caused by the constant flow of secretions from the sinuses. The secretion cannot drain through the nose and thus runs down the throat.

Severe inflammation is accompanied by fever , blurred vision and fatigue . A strong cough can also be caused by the outgoing mucus in the airways. Prolonged coughing causes pain in the chest muscles. Chronic sinusitis is characterized by a loss of performance and chronic fatigue .

In advanced stages, states of drowsiness and even delirium can develop. Frontal sinusitis is not usually associated with nosebleeds . Increased nosebleeds should always be taken as an indication of a malignant neoplasm in the area of ​​the paranasal sinuses.

Diagnosis & disease progression

Diagnosis is easy with an endoscopic examination. The very clear symptoms of sinusitis usually provide the decisive clues. Imaging methods such as sonography or magnetic resonance imaging can be used to clarify chronic sinusitis .


Frontal sinusitis can cause various complications. Occasionally, for example, abscesses form in the area of ​​the upper eyelid or purulent inflammation of the eye socket occurs. If the course is severe, life-threatening meningitis and brain abscesses can develop. If frontal dermatitis is not treated or treated insufficiently, it can develop into a chronic disease.

This can be accompanied by disturbances in smell and taste. Some patients suffer from acute episodes of infection that are accompanied by pain and exhaustion. Typical symptoms such as fever or cough can also lead to serious complications and lead to circulatory problems and shortness of breath, for example. In the advanced stage of the disease, permanent drowsiness up to delirium can occur.

Increased nosebleeds indicate that the inflammation has spread to the paranasal sinuses. If drugs are prescribed as part of the therapy, various side effects and interactions can occur. The use of decongestant nasal sprays or nose drops can cause irritation of the mucous membrane or even lead to addiction.

Antibiotics and expectorants sometimes cause symptoms such as gastrointestinal problems, headaches or allergic reactions. Heart, liver and kidney damage cannot be ruled out if taken for a longer period of time.

When should you go to the doctor?

Sinusitis is not always a reason to see a doctor. It often develops on the basis of a bacterial infection and heals spontaneously together with it. Nevertheless, there are cases that make it necessary to go to the doctor. This can be aimed at the initial diagnosis of the disease as well as the treatment of chronic sinusitis or a clinical picture with particularly severe symptoms. Contact persons in these cases are the family doctor or the specialist in ear, nose and throat medicine.

Frontal sinusitis requires a trip to the doctor, especially if a headache occurs over the eye area in connection with a cold or a cold just won’t heal. On the one hand, the doctor can determine that the headaches are caused by a frontal sinusitis and not by another process. On the other hand, it should be prevented that an acute illness takes a chronic course, which may then no longer be so easy to treat.

Even patients who are prone to sinusitis can recognize the disease in advance by going to the doctor and prevent it from developing. This is particularly important for patients with multiple illnesses or for children who are repeatedly infected with bacterial infections through their stay in kindergarten and school.

Treatment & Therapy

The main goal of therapy is to reduce inflammation. The natural drainage of mucus in the nose and sinuses must be restored. Increased fluid intake through increased drinking liquefies the mucus and thus leads to improved elimination. The same effect is achieved through high humidity in the breathing air, through short-wave treatment, through nasal rinsing or through seawater sprays.

Steam inhalations with essential oils or plant extracts can also be helpful. Expectorant or mucolytic agents such as acetylcysteine ​​or ambroxol can be taken. Expectorant herbal supplements or enzyme supplements are also available to treat frontal sinusitis.

The use of decongestant nasal sprays or nose drops can help relieve the symptoms. Since dependency can quickly develop with these nasal sprays, the duration of use should be limited to one week. Medicines containing myrtle or cineol also ensure a clear nose.

The inflammation can be reduced by enzyme preparations or nasal sprays containing cortisone. Antibiotics are only indicated for very severe symptoms. In addition, a bacterial infection should be considered certain or at least probable. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary.

A reduction in the size of the turbinate, bone scraping, straightening of the nasal septum or removal of polyps can facilitate obstructed mucus drainage. In the case of frontal sinusitis, strong heat and strong cold should be avoided. Fluctuations in temperature increase the pain. If you have a severe headache, you can raise your head higher in bed with several pillows. This allows the secretion to drain off more easily.


Frontal sinusitis can at best be prevented by strengthening the immune system. If you have a cold, you should only blow your nose with little pressure. Otherwise bacteria can get into the sinuses due to the high pressure.

If the inflammation of the frontal sinus is based on benign mucous membrane growths or other anatomical conditions, these can be removed by surgery. This can prevent future infections.


In most cases, the direct aftercare measures for frontal sinusitis are significantly limited, and in some cases they are not even available to the person affected. Therefore, the person affected by this disease should ideally consult a doctor very early on and also initiate treatment so that there are no further symptoms or complications. This disease cannot heal on its own, so treatment by a doctor is usually always necessary.

The earlier a doctor is contacted, the better the further course of the disease. In most cases, frontal sinusitis can be treated well with medication. The affected person should always pay attention to the correct dosage and regular intake in order to permanently relieve the symptoms.

When taking antibiotics, it should be noted that they must not be taken together with alcohol, otherwise their effect will be reduced. After the treatment, regular check-ups and examinations by a doctor are very useful. Frontal sinusitis does not usually reduce the life expectancy of the person affected.

You can do that yourself

In the acute form, there is a severe frontal headache. One or both of the frontal sinuses are also sensitive to pressure and percussion. In this case, the doctor must consider whether it is necessary to give antibiotics. Self-help measures are not recommended here. In this case, it is better to consult an ENT doctor .

Self-help options are only advisable in the case of chronic sinusitis. Hydrotherapeutic measures include chamomile steam baths and warm ascending foot baths. Steam inhalations with essential oils from spruce, lavender and eucalyptus are also soothing and beneficial. A good self-help measure is the addition of essential oils to the bath water. To do this, five to eight drops of peppermint oil are added to the bath water along with the same amount of lemon and lavender oil. Rubs with one of the oils mentioned are also helpful, mixed with 60 ml of a suitable carrier lotion for the face. Before going to bed, sufferers rub the cheekbones from the nose to the temples and forehead.

Avoid breathing dry air as it dries out the mucous membranes in the nose and throat. Walks in the fresh air and sufficient fluid intake are suitable for supporting the function of the mucous membranes.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.