What Are The Different Types Of Sinus Infections
Most sinus infections are caused by viruses, and theyll usually go away on their own. In fact, if the infection doesnt clear up after a week to 10 days, it can be an indication that its caused by bacteria. It may have started as a bacterial infection, or a viral infection may develop into a bacterial infection after your sinuses become filled with fluid and bacteria then forms.
If you have sinus infections that seem to clear up only to shortly return, you probably have a bacterial infection. Thick, dark, or greenish-yellow nasal discharge is another indication, but your doctor can perform tests to verify the type of infection if needed.
Sinus infections can also be classified as acute or chronic. Acute infections usually start suddenly with symptoms such as a runny, stuffy nose and facial pain and can last up to four weeks. Chronic sinusitis occurs when your infection persists for at least 12 weeks despite attempts to treat it.
In the short term, a sinus infection can cause a long list of symptoms, including the following:
Throat Irritation And Cough
As discharge from your sinuses drains down the back of your throat, it can cause irritation, especially over a long period of time. This can lead to a persistent and annoying cough, which can be worse when lying down to sleep or first thing in the morning after getting up from bed.
It can also make sleeping difficult. Sleeping upright or with your head elevated can help reduce the frequency and intensity of your coughing.
Teen Dies After Sinus Infection: How To Tell If You Have Complications
Imaging shows sinusitis of the maxillary sinus and the right meatus.
Yes, your sinuses are next to some pretty important parts of your body such as your eyes, skull, and brain. Yes, a sinus infection can occasionally spread to these areas and thus have more serious complications. And, yes, on rare occasions, these complications can be life threatening, like what reportedly happened in Michigan to a 13-year-old boy, who died after his sinus infection had apparently spread to his brain, according to Jason Duaine Hahn, writing for People.
The article in People related the tragic story of how an eighth-grader began having headaches and cold symptoms, which progressed to “migraines” and then to a swollen face with loss of muscle movement on the left side of his face and eventually to blood clots and strokes. As Hahn related, the teen eventually passed away from complications of the infection.
Indeed, this is a stark reminder of how fragile life can be and how seemingly simple health problems can quickly mushroom into much more complicated ones, even if you are young and otherwise healthy. However, this does not mean that you should freak out just because you have a sinus infection and begin popping antibiotics like they are chocolate-covered potato chips. Not only are antibiotics useless against viruses, which cause many sinus infections, but such medications can also select for antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which are much nastier and more difficult to treat.
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Untreated Sinus Infection Risks
Sinus infections often start to improve on their own after about 10 days. If your symptoms last longer without improving or if they worsen, a doctor may need to treat the underlying cause of the infection.
If a sinus infection affects a sinus cavity close to the brain, it can spread to the brain if left untreated. Though rare, an infection can also pass into the eye socket and cause vision changes or blindness. These types of infections are more common in kids.
While uncommon, a serious fungal sinus infection left untreated may pass into the bones.
Make an appointment with a doctor if you have severe symptoms, or if the following symptoms last longer than 10 days or keep coming back:
Because the cause of your sinus infection can affect your treatment options, its important to see a doctor for a diagnosis. The Healthline FindCare tool can provide options in your area if youre looking for a doctor.
If you believe you have chronic or recurring sinusitis, consider asking for a referral to an otolaryngologist, also known as an ear, nose, and throat specialist. You may need imaging and other tests to determine the cause of your symptoms.
An ENT specialist can take a culture of nose drainage to better understand the cause of an infection. The ENT specialist can also examine the sinuses more closely and look for any problem in the structure of the nasal passages that could lead to chronic sinus problems.
Conditions causing your chronic infections may include:
When To Worry About An Untreated Sinus Infection
Sinus Infections That Dont Quit: When You Should Worry. Most of us know the discomfort and annoyance of a sinus infection. Especially when they linger on. But few people realize that there are rare cases when untreated sinus infections can turn serious. Advertising Policy Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center.
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Whats The Treatment For A Brain Abscess
A brain abscess is a serious medical situation. A stay in the hospital will be required. Pressure due to swelling in the brain can lead to permanent brain damage.
If your abscess is deep inside your brain or its 2.5 centimeters or less, it will probably be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotic medications will also be used to treat any underlying infections that may have been the cause of the brain abscess. Broad-spectrum antibiotics that kill a variety of different bacteria are the most commonly prescribed. You may need more than one type of antibiotic.
Surgery is often the next step if an abscess doesnt get smaller with the use of antibiotics. It may also be the preferred treatment for abscesses greater than 2.5 centimeters wide. Surgically removing an abscess usually involves opening the skull and draining the abscess. The fluid thats removed is normally sent to a lab to determine the cause of the infection. Knowing the cause of the infection will help your doctor find the most effective antibiotics. Surgery may also be necessary if antibiotics arent working, so that the organism causing the abscess can be determined to help guide the most effective treatment.
Surgery must be performed in the most severe cases when the abscess causes a dangerous buildup of pressure in the brain. Your doctor may recommend surgery as the best option in the following cases:
How Long Do Symptoms Last
Typically, a sinus infection clears up within 2 to 3 weeks. COVID-19 lasts for about a week or two depending on its severity and your overall health.
A 2020 study surveyed 270 outpatients with COVID-19. Among them, 175 people reported returning to their usual level of health about 7 days after a positive COVID-19 test.
Some symptoms like cough and loss of smell or taste may linger temporarily after COVID-19. Some people may experience long-haul COVID-19, a group of symptoms that persist in the weeks and months following an infection.
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When Antibiotics Are In Order
The main reason to prescribe antibiotics is for patient comfort, Dr. Sindwani says. The medical field used to be more convinced than it is today than untreated sinusitis would inevitably become a chronic issue, he says.
We dont think that way as much, he says. We dont know that an untreated acute sinusitis, if left untreated, will grumble along and cause people to have a chronic sinus infection.
Some people think thats two separate things, with chronic sinusitis more likely due to underlying issues like allergies or immune problems.
How Is Sinusitis Treated
In the initial stages of sinusitis, you can manage symptoms the way you would a viral sinus infection, which goes away within 10-14 days:
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Apply a warm towel on your face for 5-10 minutes at a time 5 times a day.
- Inhale steam from a hot shower or bath.
- Use saline nasal drops in your nostrils, which loosens trapped mucus.
- Try over-the-counter medications such as nasal decongestants to help relieve pain and pressure in the head and face.
If your sinus infection does not clear up within 14 days, it may be due to bacteria or fungi:
- If it is a bacterial infection, it will need to be treated with antibiotics.
- If it is a fungal infection, your doctor will prescribe antifungal medicines, steroids, or surgery .
If you have persistent sinus problems, your doctor may recommend surgery to open the blocked sinuses or to create a wider sinus opening. Surgical options include:
- Simple balloon sinuplasty and irrigation
- Endoscopic sinus surgery
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What Happens If You Let A Sinus Infection Go Untreated
In most cases, sinus infection goes away on its own. However, if it lingers or keeps rearing its ugly head and you still keep overlooking it, a sinus infection can lead to potentially grave complications.
The possibility for serious health risks stems from the fact that your sinuses are too close to other parts of your body, especially your brain and eyes.
Heres a list of some important complications that can arise as a result of an untreated sinus infection.
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Diagnosis And Testing For Sinusitis
There are various tests that can and should be performed to confirm a diagnosis, determine the level of infection and check for other more serious issues.
A physical examination is completed, which includes a full head and neck examination so that more serious issues can be excluded. Swollen lymph nodes may occur in the neck if an infection is present, which is no different than the swelling of lymph nodes that accompanies an acute sore throat or ear infection .
Sinus palpation is used to determine the level of tenderness or swelling. When pain is experienced caused by the palpation, in the frontal or maxillary sinuses, it will be taken into consideration. A doctor may also use transillumination to look at the frontal and maxillary sinuses, though this is not always the most effective test.
The oral cavity and oropharynx is examined to evaluate the palate and condition of dentition, as well as looking for evidence of postnasal drip.
Anterior rhinoscopy, conducted with a nasal speculum, is used to examine the condition of the mucus membranes to look for evidence of purulent drainage or to look for signs of polyps or other masses. This examination is carried out with the use of a nasal decongestant, with treatments both before and after.
An ear examination may be carried out to inspect for possible middle ear fluid. This could be a sign of a mass or growth in the nasopharynx .
- Conjunctival congestion
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What Is A Sinus Infection
A sinus infection, medically known as sinusitis or rhinosinusitis, occurs when your nasal cavities become infected, swollen, and inflamed. Fluid buildup in the sinuses can cause germs to grow, leading to a sinus infection.
Sinusitis is usually caused by a virus and often lasts even after other upper respiratory symptoms are gone. In some cases, bacteria or, rarely, fungus may cause a sinus infection.
Other conditions such as allergies, nasal polyps, and tooth infections can also contribute to sinus pain and symptoms.
When Is A Tooth Infection An Emergency
A dental abscess infection is always considered a dental emergency. Any visible gum swelling can be life-threatening if not treated quickly.
During emergency treatment for a dental abscess, the surgeon will open up the abscess and drain it. This will relieve pressure and reduce any pain associated with the infection.
You will also receive prescription antibiotics to help clear the infection.
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Other Remedies For Symptom Relief
Staying hydrated can help thin mucus to ease congestion.
Drinking hot liquids such as tea and broth may help relieve your symptoms. Breathing in moist air may also help relieve the discomfort that comes with nasal congestion. Try breathing in steam from the shower, a bowl of hot water, or a mug of tea.
If your voice is hoarse, rest it by avoiding yelling, whispering, and singing.
Placing a warm compress over the inflamed area can help reduce pressure and provide relief.
damages the natural protective elements of your nose, mouth, throat, and respiratory system.
If you smoke, consider quitting. Ask a doctor if you need help or are interested in quitting. Quitting may help prevent future episodes of both acute and chronic sinusitis.
Wash your hands frequently, especially during cold and flu seasons, to keep your sinuses from becoming irritated or infected by viruses or bacteria on your hands.
Using a humidifier during the cooler, dryer months may also help prevent sinus infections.
Talk with a doctor to see if allergies are causing your sinusitis. If youre allergic to something that causes persistent sinus symptoms, you will likely need to treat your allergies to relieve your sinus infection.
You may need to seek an allergy specialist to determine the cause of the allergy. The specialist may suggest:
- avoiding the allergen
- doing allergic immunotherapy
Keeping your allergies under control can help prevent repeated episodes of sinusitis.
Where Can I Get More Information
For more information on neurological disorders or research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, contact the Institutes Brain Resources and Information Network at:
Office of Communications and Public LiaisonNational Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeNational Institutes of HealthBethesda, MD 20892
NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patients medical history.
All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.
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Symptoms That Sinusitis Has Spread To The Brain
A patient experiences severe symptoms when the sinusitis spreads and reaches to the brain. Some of the symptoms including-
- Changes in vision
- Difficulty speaking
- Severe headache inside the skull
However, our Pristyn Care ENT specialist explains that headaches can be a symptom of migraine or pressure build up inside the skull that irritates the brain lining. Another cause of headaches could be brain infection. However, if there is an infection in the brain there can be other symptoms.
When You Should Worry About A Sinus Infection
Most of us have suffered through a sinus infection, or sinusitis, at some point in our lives. It is no picnic, especially when they linger and nothing you try brings relief.
Sometimes sinus infections linger because you may not be treating them properly, or possibly taking the wrong medication. In rare cases, a lingering sinus infection is a sign of a more serious problem.
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Can Sinusitis Mental Fog Be Diagnosed
Yes, sinusitis fog can be diagnosed with a physical exam and a sinus CT scan. The sinus CT scan is a diagnostic test that uses x-rays to help your doctor see the inside of your sinuses.
Your doctor may also recommend a sinus culture. This test is used to identify the specific type of bacteria or virus that is causing your infection.
Once the cause of your chronic sinusitis and the brain fog has been diagnosed, your doctor can provide you with the appropriate treatment.
Sinus Infections Can Get To Your Brainbut Dont Panic
Traveling through the blood-brain barrier is difficult.
ByClaire Maldarelli | Published Mar 23, 2018 11:30 PM
When I was a little kid and I had a potential sinus infection, my mom would always warn: Watch it, that infection might go to your brain!
It was a useful strategy to get me to go to the doctor. But is it really true? Can a sinus infection actually travel to your noggin?
It does turn out that my mom wasnt totally off base: The infectious bacteria that infiltrate our sinuses canVERY RARELYmake its way to the brain. One of these rare occurrences recently made the news: A 13-year-old boy from Michigan died after a persistent sinus infection made its way to the blood vessels inside his brain. Despite emergency surgery to control the infection, he died a few days after being admitted to hospital.
The news is tragic and incredibly scary. But the reason it made the news in the first place is because this was a very unusual case. Consider these statistics: Acute sinusitis, the medical term for a temporary infection of the sinuses, is a type of upper respiratory infection that also includes a stuffed up and inflammed nose, ears, or throat. These ailments are common a given child in the U.S. will get about five of them every year. More than half of those will come from viruses.
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A More In Depth Explanation Of Sinusitis
Acute sinusitis causes the cavities around your nasal passages to become inflamed and swollen. This interferes with drainage and causes mucus to build up.
With acute sinusitis, it might be difficult to breathe through your nose. The area around your eyes and face might feel swollen, and you might have throbbing facial pain or a headache.
Acute sinusitis is mostly caused by the common cold. Unless a bacterial infection develops, most cases resolve within a week to 10 days.
In most cases, home remedies are all thats needed to treat acute sinusitis. However, persistent sinusitis can lead to serious infections and other complications. Sinusitis that lasts more than 12 weeks despite medical treatment is called chronic sinusitis.