What if Sinus Infection Goes Untreated?
A sinus infection, which is also called rhinosinusitis or sinusitis, takes place when the nasal cavities are infected, swollen, and inflamed.
In most cases, sinusitis is caused by a virus and often continues after many of the other upper respiratory symptoms go away. It is also possible for bacteria, or fungus in rare cases, to be the culprit for a sinus infection.
Other conditions including allergies, nasal polyps, and infections in the teeth can also be contributors to sinus pain and symptoms.
Chronic and Acute Sinus Infections
Acute sinus infections last for a shorter period of time. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, cases of acute sinusitis last less than four weeks. Acute infections are typically associated with a cold or another type of respiratory illness.
Chronic sinus infections, however, last for longer periods of time and often more than twelve weeks. They can also be recurring. Common symptoms for sinusitis include facial pain and pressure, infected nasal discharge, and congestion.
Many of the symptoms of sinus infections are shared by both the acute and chronic sinusitis. It is important for patients to schedule an appointment with their doctor to determine if you indeed have a sinus infection, to determine the cause, and to determine an effective treatment plan.
Visiting the Doctor for a Sinus Infection
Patients who have a fever, nasal discharge, congestion, or facial pain lasting longer than ten days or have symptoms which continue to return should visit their doctor.
While possible, fevers are not typically a symptom of chronic or acute sinus infections. A fever could indicate the patient has an underlying condition causing the chronic infections. Specialized treatment may be required in this case.
A common symptom of sinusitis includes pain and pressure in the sinus cavities. There are several different sinuses which are located above and below the eyes in addition to behind the nose. Patients with a sinus infection can experience pain in any of these areas.
The inflammation and swelling can cause the sinuses to ache and give a dull pressure sensation. Pain may occur in the forehead, on the sides of the nose, in the upper jaws or teeth, and in between the eyes which can result in a headache.
Because the sinus cavities are located so close to other parts of the body, including the brain and eyes, there is a possibility for severe health risks if the sinusitis is not properly treated. When sinus infections are not treated, they can impact the eyes. In severe cases, the infection can result in permanent eye damage.
While it is rare, the most concerning outcome is an untreated sinus infection reaching the brain. Infection in the brain can cause serious, long-term damage and even be fatal.
Sinus infections, while common, should not be treated casually or ignored. It is important to seek medical attention if the symptoms do not improve after a few weeks. Antibiotics are a common treatment method for eliminating the infection. Patients who suffer from chronic sinusitis may require a more extensive treatment such as a surgical procedure.