A frequent consequence of the common cold, sinus infection is a fairly common condition, and most of us have suffered from it at some point in our lives. However, apart from the annoying problems it can cause, a sinus infection can lead to more serious medical concerns if left untreated. Being able to recognize your condition and seeking medical guidance and treatment from an ENT expert will have a significant impact on your recovery and will prevent potentially negative and severe outcomes.
What is a sinus infection?
A sinus infection, or sinusitis, is the inflammation of the tissues that line your sinuses. Otherwise filled with air when healthy, sinuses become infected when they are blocked and filled with fluids.
Sinus infections can be classified into acute and chronic. The majority of acute sinus infections are caused by viral or bacterial infections. Viral sinusitis usually heals on its own in a few days, but if the condition lasts for a week or so, the viral infection may have developed into a bacterial infection. Some chronic infections may be fungal and persist for a longer period of time, possibly for months. Recurrent sinus infections can also be a sign of a deviated septum. Although a deviated septum is not a direct cause of sinus infection, it can favor the occurrence of blockages which create the right conditions for germs to grow and cause an infection.
The most common symptoms of an acute sinus infection include the following:
× Facial pain
× Reduced sense of smell or taste
× Bad breath
Those with chronic sinusitis usually experience these symptoms for a longer period of time than a week.
How can sinus infections be treated?
Depending on the type of infection, there are different treatments for sinusitis. If you have a viral sinus infection, you can alleviate the symptoms by resting, increasing your fluid intake, and applying nasal saline sprays. Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics, corticosteroids, and antihistamines. If these infections are recurrent or chronic, the ENT may suggest undergoing a sinus surgery in order to remove infected obstructions and help your sinuses drain better.
What happens if a sinus infection is left untreated?
A sinus infection can have potentially serious complications if partially or inadequately treated or left untreated altogether. A sinus infection that is allowed to linger for weeks can cause pain and discomfort and may develop into chronic sinusitis. An untreated sinus infection, for example, can spread to the eyes and reduce vision and can cause blindness in severe cases. In more extreme but rare cases, sinus infections can also spread to the brain and lead to a brain abscess or meningitis, which can be life-threatening.
If you are suffering from a sinus infection, seek medical assistance from an ENT expert, who will evaluate your symptoms, determine whether you’re suffering from a sinus infection, and decide the best treatment for your condition.