Sinusitis is one of the most common diseases in the United States, with over 30 million people getting diagnosed with it every year. To put it into perspective, that’s one in every seven people. If you suffer from sinusitis, you probably know that it is inconvenient at best, and can make it difficult to live your life peacefully, especially if your condition is chronic.
Sinusitis isn’t typically a life-threatening condition, but it does come with complications. Keep reading to learn more about the effects of sinusitis, and how you can get help
What Is Sinusitis?
Sinusitis, also known as rhinosinusitis or sinus infection, is an inflammation or swelling of the tissue that lines the nasal cavity. The symptoms of sinusitis are similar to those from colds, allergies, nasal polyps, and tooth infections, which is why it’s important to visit your doctor when you start getting these symptoms.
Sinuses are a system of four connected air-filled cavities in the head. They can become infected and inflamed when they are blocked by fluid, infected by bacteria, viruses, or fungi, or as a result of allergies. This leads to a buildup of fluid, which in turn causes symptoms like pain, swelling, fever, nasal discharge, and more.
Complications of Sinusitis
Most cases of sinusitis do not have any severe complications, especially when it is acute sinusitis (short-term inflammation). However, although rare, it is possible to experience certain complications that can potentially be fatal if left unchecked.
Complications of Acute Sinusitis
Acute sinusitis, for example, is usually a result of an infection. In very rare cases, the infection can spread further into the nervous system—the brain, eyes, and spinal cord. This is possible since the walls of the sinuses are thin, and share blood vessels and lymph drainage pathways with certain parts of the central nervous system.
Complications of Chronic Sinusitis
Like acute sinusitis, serious complications of chronic sinusitis are rare, but not impossible. Chronic sinusitis can also cause further infection due to spreading. Additionally, the infection can result in vision problems, which can cause partial or even complete blindness.
Other Complications Include:
- Thrombosis: Thrombosis occurs when there is a blood clot(s) in the veins or arteries, blocking the blood vessels.
- Meningitis: Meningitis is a condition that affects the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. A sinus infection caused by bacteria that spreads to nearby areas can result in bacterial meningitis, which is a life-threatening condition.
- Brain Abscess: A brain abscess is a pus-filled swelling that develops in the brain, typically as a response to trauma or infection. It is a serious condition that can be formed when infection in a part of the body reaches the brain.
- Osteomyelitis: Osteomyelitis is a bone infection caused by a bacterial or fungal infection that enters a bone from the bloodstream or nearby tissue.
Apart from these, people with sinusitis can also experience constant or near-constant pain, drooping eyelids, increased sensitivity to light, seizures, confusion, and nuchal rigidity (stiffness of the neck).
If you suffer from sinusitis or are concerned about potential complications of sinusitis, make sure to speak to your doctor or healthcare provider about your treatment options.