The Dangers of Chronic, Untreated Sinusitis Complications

February 1, 2018

5 minutes

If you ask someone about the dangers of chronic and untreated sinusitis complications, it’s possible that they will shrug you off. People commonly dismiss sinus infections as being annoying, but ultimately harmless. All you need is a few tissues and some sort of sinus headache relief, right?

Not quite. If treated properly, the health risks of sinusitis can be quite low, but if left untreated sinusitis and its complications can last a long time and can be dangerous to your health.

Read more to learn more about chronic sinusitis, why treatment matters, the types of chronic sinusitis complications that could arise if your chronic sinusitis is left untreated, and how you can avoid these complications.

What is sinusitis?

Rhinosinusitis, better known as sinusitis, is a sinus infection which manifests itself as an inflammation of the sinuses. We’ve written previously about some of the many causes of sinusitis, including sinusitis and humidity and how can weather affect the sinuses, that may help you stay on top of potential sinus infections during Texas’s unpredictable weather.

Of course, patients don’t typically recognize an oncoming sinus infection by looking at the weather. Instead, they’re more likely to recognize an oncoming chronic sinusitis infection by its common and uncomfortable symptoms, which can include one or more of the following:

  • Mucus buildup, a clogged nose, and discharge
  • Pain in the facial area
  • Headaches
  • Soreness in the throat
  • Coughing
  • Fever

Usually, sinusitis is a relatively mild, if uncomfortable illness with familiar symptoms. It’s because these symptoms are so familiar that many patients ignore them or days or sometimes weeks before seeking help.

Chronic sinusitis complications: why they matter

Avoiding sinusitis treatment for long periods of may result in chronic sinusitis complications. These complications can require emergency surgery, hinder how your brain and eyes function and, in severe cases, can be life-threatening. If you have been experiencing chronic sinusitis symptoms, we urge you to consider seeking proper medical attention now and request an appointment with Dr. Kaplan.

Chronic sinusitis complications: decreased sense of smell

Of all the chronic sinusitis complications, decreased sense of smell is perhaps the most obvious. Also known as hyposmia, nasal obstruction and inflammation to the olfactory nerve can cause a partial loss of smell.

However, if chronic sinusitis goes untreated, this could turn to anosmia, or the complete loss of smell. While steroid nasal sprays can temporarily help, it’s possible to incur permanent damage to your sense of smell.

Chronic sinusitis complications: paranasal sinus mucocele

Another chronic sinusitis complication is a mucocele. A paranasal sinus mucocele is a cyst-like mass that occurs when sinuses are unable to drain mucus.

Mucoceles are not typically regarded as dangerous, but when a hardened mucocele mass expands, it exerts painful pressure on various parts of the sinuses or nose. Left untreated, mucoceles can become infected and you may need to have surgery to remove the mass.

Chronic sinusitis complications: spread of infection

Sinus infections are not typically contagious from a patient to other people. However, untreated sinusitis complications can mean your sinus infection spreads to other parts of your body, and can result in eye infections, ear infections, skin infections, and even issues within the brain.

Chronic sinusitis complications: orbital cellulitis

Orbital cellulitis is a chronic sinusitis complication caused by the spread of the original sinus infection to the eyes. Eye infections from sinusitis are even more likely to cause other infections throughout the body. Additionally, orbital cellulitis can be irritating to the patient; it causes redness around the eyes, puss in the eye sockets, and can cause vision changes if untreated.

Chronic sinusitis complications: meningitis and brain abscess

The remaining untreated sinusitis complications are not common experiences, but they do crop up. When these complications do arise, patients are exposed to extreme risks to their health.

If chronic sinusitis goes untreated for a length of time, it is possible the infection can spread to vital parts of your body, including to the bones, spinal fluid, and the brain. These complications, meningitis and brain abscesses, are life-threatening and require immediate emergency surgery.

Chronic sinusitis complications: sinus thrombosis

Another less common but very serious chronic sinusitis complication is called sinus thrombosis. In cavernous sinus thrombosis, your body creates a blood clot as a self defense mechanism. Thrombosis, the blood clot, normally serves as a barrier between a serious infection and other parts of your body, and is supposed to keep an infection from spreading.

However, when the blood clot is occurs in a vein that runs behind the eyes and under the brain, it risks expanding and producing pressure on the brain. This pressure causes droopy eyes, vision loss, seizures, and other symptoms. Thrombosis can be fatal in 1 of 3 occurrences.

Don’t let sinusitis stuff up your life

If you’re suffering from chronic sinusitis, don’t try to tough it out. Chronic sinusitis can leave you fatigued, congested, and downright sick. Luckily, at Kaplan Sinus Relief, it’s possible to receive lasting sinus relief and freedom from complications in as little as 25 minutes.

Kaplan Sinus Relief offers convenient, minimally invasive Houston Balloon Sinuplasty that expands your sinuses and provides relief from sinusitis. Balloon Sinuplasty requires neither incisions nor the removal of bone or tissue. As a result, recovery after Balloon Sinuplasty is quick and easy.

Are you ready to say goodbye to chronic sinusitis and its complications? Schedule a free appointment today.

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