Maxillary Sinusitis Seattle

When diagnosed with a sinus infection, most people do not know which sinus cavities harbor the infection. For acute infections it is not necessarily important for treatment. When sinusitis becomes chronic, where the infection is located can indicate the best treatments. Dr. David Santos at Sinusitis In Seattle can locate your sinusitis and determine the best treatments for your sinus problems. With decades of experience and expertise, Dr. Santos at Sinusitis In Seattle offers the best treatment for maxillary sinusitis Seattle provides.


Maxillary sinusitis refers to a sinus infection located in the maxillary sinuses. The maxillary sinuses are the largest of the sinus cavities. Over half of acute and chronic sinusitis cases involve the maxillary sinuses. The infection can occur on only one side of the maxillary sinuses, or both.

Like the other sinuses, the maxillary sinuses are small, air-filled spaces in the skull that lighten it. In the sinuses, mucus is produced and drained. When the sinuses do not properly drain, or an outside infection occurs, the maxillary sinuses become inflamed and clogged.


The location of the maxillary sinuses commonly influences the reasons why the maxillary sinuses are commonly involved in many sinus infections. Also, due to the maxillary sinus’s proximity to other structures, this can cause infections to spread easily to and from the maxillary sinus.

The maxillary sinuses are pyramid-shaped structures located in the space behind the cheekbones. While the size of the sinuses varies, the maxillary sinuses come close to the back molars and sides of the nose. As the only pair of sinuses below the nose, this means that infection in the other sinuses can easily reach the maxillary sinuses.

Additionally, around 10-12% of maxillary sinus infections begin as a dental infection. When an infected tooth is neglected or not properly treated, this infection can spread to the sinuses. Luckily, this is usually easily treated with antibiotics and basic dental care.


A maxillary sinus infection will exhibit many of the same symptoms of sinusitis. However, depending on the type and severity, maxillary sinusitis can show varying symptoms from infections in other sinus cavities. For example, chronic sinusitis in the maxillary sinuses is less likely to cause facial pain. Conversely, acute maxillary sinusitis can cause facial pain. Though, in acute forms does not usually cause facial swelling.

The most common symptoms associated with a maxillary sinus infection include:

  • Pain or tenderness of the cheek area
  • Runny nose
  • Pain or tenderness in the teeth or mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Postnasal drip
  • Fatigue
  • Fever (more common during acute infections)
  • Worsening pain or discomfort when bending or leaning forward
  • Swelling of the cheek or face (not common when the infection is in acute stages and isolated to the maxillary sinuses)
  • Headache


As previously mentioned, an acute maxillary sinus infection tends to look different from chronic maxillary sinusitis. Other than the obvious difference in the length of symptoms, the presentation tends to differ. In general, chronic sinusitis symptoms seem to be duller, but last longer and create more issues. Acute sinusitis symptoms also tend to be more severe, but last a shorter period. Acute symptoms also usually resolve without much treatment. 

The table below details the symptoms most commonly seen in the acute versus chronic presentations of maxillary sinusitis. There is a crossover with some symptoms and patients will see variation based on the causes of their sinusitis.

Acute Chronic
  • Pain in the cheek (worsened when leaning or laying down)
  • Toothache or pain
  • Occasionally numbness or tingling is present
  • Decrease in smell or taste
  • Fatigue
  • Clogged, runny nose
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Jaw pain
  • Runny nose
  • Post nasal drip
  • Consistent congestion
  • Headaches
  • Facial swelling
  • Symptoms do not improve with time or basic treatment
  • Bad breath
  • Fatigue
  • Pain teeth or jaw (often less frequent)
  • Smell or taste disruptions

Chronic maxillary sinusitis is often caused by allergies or a larger upper respiratory infection. Bronchitis is a fairly common cause of subacute maxillary sinusitis. If your symptoms last longer than four weeks, you may need to see a Seattle sinus specialist like Dr. David Santos. He can help prevent chronic sinusitis or determine the cause of your sinus problems.


Maxillary sinusitis becomes chronic when it lasts longer than eight to twelve weeks. Chronic sinusitis usually does not respond to initial treatments and symptoms will not get better over time. Some home remedies may temporarily alleviate the symptoms of maxillary chronic sinusitis. Eventually, though, surgery may become necessary to address sinusitis symptoms. In this case, you will need to consult with a qualified otolaryngologist and ENT surgeon like Dr. Santos.


At a consultation at Sinusitis In Seattle, Dr. Santos will discuss your sinusitis symptoms, how long they have been present, treatments you have tried, and what you want to achieve. Dr. Santos will likely try to identify the cause of your sinus problems. If identifiable, he may recommend other procedures such as nasal polyp removal or septoplasty

Generally, the most common surgery to treat chronic maxillary sinusitis is sinus surgery. Sinus surgery can refer to a few different procedures. The most common are endoscopic sinus surgery, balloon sinus surgery, and stealth sinus surgery

If Dr. Santos believes that one of these procedures will benefit you, he will determine whether you are a good candidate. If you are a good candidate for sinus surgery in Seattle, Dr. Santos will discuss the procedure and the expected outcome.


Each sinus surgery uses a slightly different technique to drain the sinuses and relieve inflammation. However, each accesses the sinuses in the same way. Dr. Santos will insert a small tube through the nostril and use imaging technology (usually an endoscope or CT scan) to guide it into the maxillary sinuses. 

Once there, Dr. Santos will manually drain the sinuses, remove infected tissues, and relieve inflammation. In balloon sinuplasty, the sinuses are also widened to prevent future clogging. With other techniques, the sinuses may also become naturally wider due to the removal of buildup and inflammation.

Sinus surgery usually takes less than an hour. More complex or combined procedures can take up to a couple of hours. In most cases, patients can expect surgery to take an hour or less. As an outpatient procedure, you will then go home and start your recovery the same day.


Immediately after surgery, you will likely notice your nose become congested. Your nose may continue to be clogged for a few weeks following the procedure. You may also see some bloody discharge from your nose which is perfectly normal. Though, if your nose bleeds extensively, you should contact Sinusitis In Seattle. 

Dr. Santos will give instructions for performing nasal irrigation to prevent infection and alleviate discomfort. Generally, not too much pain is associated with sinus surgery and is easily managed with over-the-counter painkillers. Other instructions Dr. Santos may give for your Seattle sinus surgery recovery are:

  • Elevate the head of your bed
  • Do not exercise or lift anything heavy for at least two weeks. Vigorous exercise may need to halt for a few weeks
  • Avoid blowing your nose for two weeks
  • Stick to painkillers that do not contain Aspirin or ibuprofen unless advised as they can thin the blood. This can place you at higher risk of blood clots


How Do I Drain Maxillary Sinuses?

The easiest way to drain the sinuses at home is to perform nasal cavity irrigation. This should only be performed under a doctor’s guidance as overwashing can dry out and irritate the sinuses more. When performed correctly, nasal rinsing can promote sinus drainage and reduce inflammation. Certain massage techniques may also aid in sinus drainage.

Otherwise, surgery is the most direct way to manually drain the sinuses. This is only necessary in chronic cases. Dr. Santos will recommend various home remedies for draining the sinuses and alleviating sinus symptoms.

Can A Tooth Infection Cause A Maxillary Sinus Infection?

Yes, an infected tooth can lead to a maxillary sinus infection. It is important to seek immediate care for a dental infection to prevent it from spreading into the maxillary sinuses.

Which Sinuses Are Most Commonly Infected?

As discussed earlier, the maxillary sinuses are among the most common sinus cavities infected. This is largely due to their location below all the other sinuses. Along with the maxillary sinuses, the ethmoid sinuses are the next sinus cavities often involved in sinus infections. 

It is possible to have an infection in multiple sinus cavities and experience symptoms associated with each. Dr. Santos will use various methods such as imaging and examination to determine which sinuses are inflamed.

Can The Maxillary Sinuses Be Infected On Just One Side?

Yes, like all sinus cavities, the maxillary sinuses are located on each side of the face. This means that one chamber of the maxillary sinus can have an infection while the other remains clear and unirritated. This is fairly common in all types of sinusitis.

Why See A Seattle ENT At Sinusitis In Seattle?

When sinusitis becomes a chronic problem, it is important to see a doctor certified to specifically treat sinus problems. Since the causes of sinusitis are often difficult or impossible to fully identify or diagnose, an ENT is best equipped to treat maxillary sinusitis in Seattle.

Dr. Santos will look for all possible causes. He will then work to find the solution–whether surgical or not–that will best resolve your sinus problems.


Dr. David Santos is an ENT specialist with decades of experience providing the gold standard of care to sinus patients. With extensive knowledge of facial anatomy and sinus issues, Dr. Santos can explore the best options for treating maxillary sinusitis. As a board certified otolaryngologist, Dr. Santos comes with years worth of expertise.

Along with his experience as an ENT specialist, Dr. Santos also performs facial plastic surgery. This makes him one of the top experts in facial anatomy and ensures that every aspect of your surgery is handled with care and precision. To learn more about maxillary sinusitis treatment and schedule a consultation, call us at 206-242-3696.

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