April 23, 2014
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Flu (Seasonal)

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Do I have the flu?

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Sinusitis

(Sinus Infection)

The Facts on Sinusitis

The sinuses are hollow spaces in the bones behind the face. Directly behind the nose is a cavity. On either side of the nasal cavity are large sinuses. A row of very small sinuses runs behind the bridge of the nose, and two more large sinuses are located above and behind the inner part of the eyebrows.

Sinusitis is inflammation of the sinuses. It may be associated with both bacterial and viral infections, but it may be due to non-infectious inflammation (e.g., allergies) in the sinuses as well. Sinusitis can be acute and last less than 4 weeks, or chronic and last 8 to 12 weeks or more. Acute sinusitis is very common, affecting about 1 in 10 people each year.

People with diabetes or cystic fibrosis and people who are immunocompromised are at increased risk for sinusitis, as are those who were born with a malformed septum (the dividing wall between the nostrils).

Feeling under the weather?

Could your symptoms be signs of the flu?

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Do I have the flu?

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  • sudden onset of fever or
  • sudden onset of cough


  • fatigue (extreme tiredness)
  • sore throat
  • body or muscle aches
  • chills
  • headache
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • poor appetite
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea


  • people 65 years old or over
  • children under 5 years old
  • pregnant women
  • people who are obese
  • people living in a long-term care facility or nursing home
  • people with any of the following medical conditions:
    • asthma
    • cancer
    • chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)
    • diabetes
    • heart disease
    • kidney disease
    • weakened immune system (e.g., HIV/AIDS)


YES YES      NO NO

It's unlikely that you have the flu.

You may have the flu.

You probably have the flu.

But you do have at least 1 risk factor that puts you at risk of flu complications. If you do experience any flu symptoms, talk to your doctor or visit a walk-in clinic as soon as possible.

And you may also have at least 1 risk factor that put you at risk of flu complications.

Talk to your doctor or visit a walk-in clinic if your symptoms concern you or if they get worse.

Talk to your doctor or visit a walk-in clinic as soon as possible.

Enter your postal code to find a clinic near you:  

Know the flu basics and how you can protect yourself and your family.

NOTE: If your symptoms still concern you, speak to your doctor or go to a walk-in clinic as soon as possible.

Flu complications include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, or worsening of existing chronic conditions

If your doctor prescribes an antiviral medication, start the medication within 48 hours after your symptoms begin. Antivirals, when started within 48 hours after symptoms begin, can help relieve flu symptoms and make the flu less severe.

Home treatment options for the flu include getting plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids, treating symptoms (such as using a pain reliever for body aches and fever), and avoiding contact with others.

Other treatment options for the flu include home treatments like getting plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids, treating symptoms (such as using a pain reliever for body aches and fever), and avoiding contact with others.

Get the facts about the 2 main types of medications used to treat the flu and home treatments you can try.

If you experience any of these severe symptoms, seek medical help right away:

  • shortness of breath, rapid or difficulty breathing
  • chest pain
  • bluish or grey skin colour
  • bloody or coloured mucus/spit
  • severe or continuous vomiting
  • sudden dizziness or confusion
  • high fever that's lasted more than 3 days
  • low blood pressure
  • stiff neck, sensitivity to light
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Other resources about flu:


Causes of Sinusitis

The sinuses produce mucus that helps us clean the nose and to smell. It's moved out of the sinuses and into the nasal cavity by thousands of tiny hairs, called cilia, which operate in unison to form a sort of conveyor belt. Foreign particles and organisms entering the sinuses land in the mucus and are sent back to the nose. To get to the nose, the mucus has to pass through small holes in the bones that surround the sinuses.

Sinusitis usually begins during a bout of the common cold, influenza (flu), or some other viral infection. This causes the nasal mucous membrane (which is soft tissue inside the nose, not simply mucus) to swell. It can press against the hole through which mucus leaves a sinus.

Most cases of sinusitis are caused by viral infections. However, in a few people, a bacterial infection can develop. This is because when the sinus fills with mucus and empties of oxygen, it creates an ideal setting for bacteria to grow. The bacteria are often already in the nose, but don't cause an infection because they are held in check by the body's natural defences.

If the body's defences (e.g., the cilia, sinus drainage, or immune system) are not working properly, the bacteria can cause an infection. In rare cases, sinusitis can be caused by a fungal infection. People who get fungal sinus infections usually have other medical problems that affect their ability to fight infection (e.g., HIV, cystic fibrosis).

Other things that inflame the nose can also cause sinusitis. For example, hay fever and other allergies increase your chances of getting sinusitis.





Symptoms and Complications of Sinusitis

Sinusitis has symptoms very different from a cold or the flu. The main symptoms are face pain or pressure, congestion, nasal discharge or post-nasal drip, and reduced ability to smell. The location of the pain depends on which sinus or sinuses are affected.

Infection of the lower (maxillary) sinuses causes toothache in the upper jaw and pain in the area under the eyes, while infection of the upper (frontal) sinuses causes pain in the temple. Infection of the small sinuses between the eyes (the ethmoid sinuses) causes pain between and behind the eyes.

Yellow or green pus may drain out of the nose, and there may be an unpleasant smell. Someone with sinusitis may feel generally unwell, but there shouldn't be a fever if the infection is confined to the sinuses.

Acute sinusitis usually lasts about 2 weeks. In a few people, however, the infection can last longer. When symptoms last more than 8 to 12 weeks, the condition is termed chronic sinusitis.

Serious complications of sinusitis can sometimes occur, including abscesses and meningitis (infection of the membranes surrounding the central nervous system).

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