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Smelly Mucus in the Nose

Smelly mucus in the nose may be a sign that you have a sinus infection, also called sinusitis. The American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery reports that a history of thick drainage that's foul smelling and tasting is a symptom of chronic sinusitis 1. Treating your chronic sinus infection helps relieve your symptoms and stop the unpleasant odor.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Identification

Your sinuses are located behind your eyes and under your forehead, cheekbones and the bridge of your nose. These air-filled cavities clean the air you breathe, using mucus to filter out dirt, germs and other particles. Mucus travels from the sinuses to your nose, where it exits your body. When you're sick or suffering from allergies, the sinuses swell, preventing complete drainage and causing a foul-smelling bacterial infection in some cases. If a sinus infection lasts three months or more, it may be a chronic sinus infection, according to MayoClinic.com 2.

  • Your sinuses are located behind your eyes and under your forehead, cheekbones and the bridge of your nose.
  • Mucus travels from the sinuses to your nose, where it exits your body.

Symptoms

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Other symptoms of a chronic sinus infection may include:

  • pain or pressure in the facial bones
  • difficulty breathing due to sinus congestion
  • nausea
  • sore throat
  • post-nasal drip
  • green or yellow mucus in the nose
  • cough
  • bad breath
  • fatigue
  • pain in the teeth
  • ear or upper jaw

You may notice that your sense of smell and taste is also affected if you have a chronic sinus infection.

Risk Factors

If you have allergies or a weak immune system, you may at a higher risk of developing a sinus infection.

Medication

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Doctors treat chronic sinus infections with oral antibiotics. When sinusitis has been present for several weeks or longer, treatment usually lasts for at least four weeks and can continue for up to eight or 12 weeks or longer, according to the American Rhinologic Association 4. Your doctor may also prescribe an oral decongestant to help thin out mucus. She may recommend that you use nasal steroid spray to relieve swelling in nasal passages and saline spray to keep nasal passages moist. Over-the-counter medications can help relieve pain due to sinusitis.

  • Doctors treat chronic sinus infections with oral antibiotics.
  • She may recommend that you use nasal steroid spray to relieve swelling in nasal passages and saline spray to keep nasal passages moist.

Surgery

Surgery is only recommended if you have severe chronic sinusitis that isn’t helped by other treatments. Your doctor may also recommend surgery if you have a polyp that blocks your nasal passages.

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