Dr. Koralla Raja Meghanadh
Is a sinus infection dangerous?
Updated: Feb 10
In the olden days, when we did not have endoscopic sinus surgery and CT scan, the easiest way to kill a patient was with sinus surgery. These were the words of Dr. H. P. Mosher in 1929.
The easiest way for a surgeon to kill a patient is during a sinus operation.
Technological developments and inventions like endoscopes, lasers, and navigation systems have made surgery extremely safe. The point to be taken here is that sinuses are present at a critical position in our body.
The sinus is an air-filled pocket or cavity located near critical structures like the brain, eye, and other vital organs’ nerves. Sinus diseases can create complications due to their location.
Why is sinus infection dangerous?
Mucormycosis or commonly known as the black fungus is an extremely rare sinus fungal infection where fungus spreads rapidly through the blood vessels. Within a few weeks, a person can die if left untreated. That’s how close the sinuses are to the brain. Thankfully most of the sinus disease’s progression is very slow compared to mucormycosis. A few fungal sinus infections can also result in facial deformity.
Why do people take sinusitis lightly?
This slow progression has created a massive lack of awareness about sinusitis. Sinus infection is a dangerous disease and can lead to complications when left untreated, although the general public takes it easy as in most cases somehow the body can manage it for a very long time.
In 95% of sinus disease patients, our body can heal itself without a doctor’s intervention. In 1%, their disease can get severe with time, and a doctor might not be of any help. But, doctors play a vital role in the remaining 4%. A doctor’s job is to identify which slot the patient fits and give treatment accordingly. A doctor gives the 95% lot a gentle treatment, 4% an aggressive one, and the remaining 1% do not treat. Due to the 95% lot, where the patients can use self-heal, the general notion is that sinus is not dangerous, making the 95% progress into completely avoidable 4% and 1% categories.
Why should we treat sinus infections?
Sinus infection, when left untreated, can spread to the eye and brain. Although 95% have mild sinusitis, the remaining 5% are in danger of losing their eyes and life. Therefore, it is better to get treated when we belong to 95% rather than risk going into the 5% lot and ending with surgery. Medicines or home remedies work better for milder sinusitis patients. So, the earlier you start early, you recover. Do not postpone your sinus surgery with some excuses. Get it done ASAP.
Sinus surgery gives good results in early stages than later stages
Complication of sinusitis
Complications occur rarely but can occur in all stages of sinusitis, including long-standing chronic and acute sinusitis. Complications of acute sinusitis are rarer when compared to chronic sinusitis, and acute sinusitis complications occur when immunity takes a toll due to as simple reasons as stress.
Acute sinusitis complications
Orbital cellulitis and orbital abscess (infection in eyes)
Complications in the brain like meningitis and encephalitis
Chronic sinusitis complications
Laryngitis (voice box infection)
Bronchitis & Pneumonia (if the infection spreads to the lungs)
Otitis media (middle ear infection)
All these complications can be avoided if treated on time with proper medication.
To know more about complications you can read our article dedicated to them.
"Complications of Sinusitis" by Dr. K. R. Meghanadh
If you want to know about the treatment, you can read our article
"Treatment for Sinusitis- Acute, Chronic & Subacute stages"
Is sinus a serious problem?
Yes, it is a serious problem. However, many individuals fail to recognize its seriousness, as in many cases, it can resolve on its own without medical attention. But if left untreated, it can cause complications in various organs such as the eyes, brain, ears, lungs, etc. So, it's best to treat it on time.