Thursday, May 16, 2024

What Happens If A Sinus Infection Goes Untreated

Throat Irritation And Cough

What happens if you let a sinus infection go untreated? – Dr. Gaurav Medikeri S

As discharge from your sinuses drains down the back of your throat, it can cause irritation, especially over a long period of time. This can lead to a persistent and annoying cough, which can be worse when lying down to sleep or first thing in the morning after getting up from bed.

It can also make sleeping difficult. Sleeping upright or with your head elevated can help reduce the frequency and intensity of your coughing.

How Do You Treat A Sinus Infection

If you suspect you have a sinus infection, you should see a medical professional in order to get advice on proper treatment. In most cases, antibiotics are not necessary. However, if your sinus infection is caused by a bacterial infection, your doctor may prescribe medications. You can also try some of these home care techniques to help relieve discomfort and congestion:

  • Hot showers or stream treatments, especially before bed, may help open up your sinuses and allow you to breathe better.
  • Using a nasal nebulizer with a saline moisturizer to clear out congestion and soothe irritated areas.
  • Ask a pharmacist or a healthcare professional about over-the-counter medications and treatments to relieve pain and other symptoms
  • Get plenty of rest and drink warm fluids to reduce post nasal drip.

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, its possible to incur permanent damage to your sense of smell.

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What Happens When A Sinus Infection Goes Untreated

Although it may seem like it, your sinuses are not just contributing to your infections. They have many other functions like regulating air temperature, producing mucus to fight infections, and assist in communication. The sinuses are very important to your overall health and contribute to many different bodily functions.

Many sufferers are able to let their body clear up the infection on its own. They can suffer through their symptoms for a few days or even a week with only over-the-counter medication and feel better fairly soon. When sinus infections wonât seem to go away or continue to return, there may be a more serious problem going on. These particularly painful infections are known as chronic sinusitis and they need more attention and care than just over-the-counter medications.

Frequent sinus infections have been known to take a toll on all aspects of sufferersâ lives. When headaches, congestion, fatigue, facial pain, bad breath and much more continue, it can contribute to other serious issues such as:

  • Relationship problems

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Treatment For Nasal Polyps

Can Sinus Cause Memory Loss

Medications: If you need treatment, youâll probably start with a nasal corticosteroid spray. In many cases, that can shrink or even get rid of nasal polyps. But some people need to take corticosteroids such as prednisone by mouth for a week. If that doesnt work, your doctor may give you a shot of a medicine called dupilumab .

Unfortunately, nasal polyps tend to come back if the irritation, allergy, or infection continues. So you may need to keep using a corticosteroid spray and get checkups with a nasal endoscope every now and then.

In general, medications such as antihistamines and arenât great at managing nasal polyps. But you may need antihistamines, to control allergies, or antibiotics, if you have an infection, before you start on steroids.

Surgery: Sometimes, nasal polyps are so large that medications donât work. In such cases, surgery may be an option.

The doctor would likely use a small nasal telescope that removes nasal polyps. You can go home the same day as the surgery.

Surgery helps in most cases. It may be less effective if you have nasal polyps, asthma, and aspirin sensitivity. If thatâs you, medication may be more helpful.

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What Are The Stages Of A Sinus Infection

  • Acute sinusitis usually starts with cold-like symptoms such as a runny, stuffy nose and facial pain. It may start suddenly and last 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Subacute sinusitus usually lasts 4 to 12 weeks.
  • Chronic sinusitus symptoms last 12 weeks or longer.
  • Recurrent sinusitis happens several times a year.

How Dangerous Are Untreated Ear Infections In Adults

Itchiness or pain. Trouble hearing. Fluid leaking out of the ears. These symptoms may have been all too common when we were kids, but as an adult, the signs of an ear infection are probably something you have not felt in quite some time. While ear infectionsmiddle ear infections in particularare more common in children, they are not unheard of in adults. In this blog post we explore the risks and complications of leaving an ear infection untreated in adults.

In our last blog, we talked about the difference between middle ear infections , and outer ear infections , more commonly known as swimmers ear. Otitis media is caused by either bacteria or viruses. A common cold, the flu, or allergy symptoms that cause congestion and swelling of the nasal passages, throat, and eustachian tubes can sometimes lead to an infection. Anything that makes the nose stuffy has a tendency to cause swelling and blockage of the eustachian tubes. Swelling from colds or allergies can keep the eustachian tubes from opening and this leads to pressure changes and the accumulation of fluid in the middle ear. This pressure and fluid will cause pain and sometimes persistent fluid can lead to an infection.

Potential Complications

Untreated chronic ear infections can also cause tears in the eardrum. These tears will typically heal within a few days, though in more extreme cases, surgical repair might be required.

Ear Infection Treatments

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When To See A Doctor For A Sinus Infection

Consult a physician if you experience any of the following:

  • See your doctor if there is no improvement after 48 to 72 hours as this could indicate a more serious problem.
  • See your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following: fever, severe headache, confusion, stiff neck, changes in your vision, and/or swelling around the eyes or forehead, as these could be signs of a more serious infection.
  • Remember to record and report your symptoms and their duration to assist your doctor in creating your care plan.

Your Sinusitis Keeps Coming Back Because You Dont Have An Accurate Diagnosis

Dr. Bouknight Discusses Untreated Sinus Disease

If the infection lasts longer than a couple of weeks or the pain is becoming unbearable, seek medical treatment immediately. Accurate diagnosis is key to treating sinusitis, especially when the infections return over and over again. You can treat allergies all you want, but a polyp, deviated septum, or other anatomical abnormalities in the nasal passages wont disappear without more expert treatment.

A comprehensive examination of the nose and sinus passages by a specialist is necessary to evaluate the correct diagnosis and cause of your symptoms. In some cases, what has been previously diagnosed as a sinus issue has, in fact, been caused by another issue. Identifying the correct diagnosis is the first step to feeling better.

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When Antibiotics Are In Order

The main reason to prescribe antibiotics is for patient comfort, Dr. Sindwani says. The medical field used to be more convinced than it is today than untreated sinusitis would inevitably become a chronic issue, he says.

We dont think that way as much, he says. We dont know that an untreated acute sinusitis, if left untreated, will grumble along and cause people to have a chronic sinus infection.

Some people think thats two separate things, with chronic sinusitis more likely due to underlying issues like allergies or immune problems.

Nasal Polyps Or Other Soft Tissue Obstructions

Sometimes, for reasons that are unclear, the thin tissue lining the nasal passages develop small, benign tumors. We call these nasal polyps. As you know, it does not take much to obstruct the airway, so even a single polyp can lead to significant airway and breathing issues including chronic snoring as well as recurring sinus infections. Most often though, people with polyp-related sinusitis have multiple polyps obstructing the nasal passages.

Fortunately, we can remove nasal polyps or other soft tissue obstructions using minimally-invasive procedures such as nasal airway remodeling.

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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.

What Is A Sinus Infection

Can Sinus Cause Memory Loss

A sinus infection, which is sometimes referred to as sinusitis, occurs when the tissues that line your sinuses become inflamed or swollen. Theyre usually filled with air, but when they become blocked and filled with fluid, an infection can result.

This type of infection can be caused by bacteria or viruses, and in rare cases, by fungi. Although colds, allergies, and anatomical issues such as a deviated septum dont directly cause these infections, they can create blockages that create the right conditions for germs to grow and cause an infection.

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Accurate Sinus Diagnosis And Treatments Is Essential

The only way to stop recurring sinus infections once and for all is to have an evaluation by a specialist who has the specialized training and experience to accurately diagnose their cause. Once you have an accurate diagnosis, we can discuss the options. The goal is always to provide the patient with all the available options, discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each, and help you find the best treatment plan for you.

Common Symptoms And Signs Of Sinus Infections

Signs and symptoms of sinus infections depend upon the sinuses that are affected, and whether the sinus infection is acute or chronic.

Common Sinus Infection Symptoms and Signs

  • Stuffy nose or congestion

5 Chronic Sinusitis Symptoms

Chronic sinusitis may have many of the same symptoms as acute sinusitis, but the symptoms last longer or are more severe. In addition, people with chronic sinusitis may also experience multiple symptoms, for example:

  • Pain that is worse in the late morning or when wearing glasses
  • Pain and pressure in the face worsens when leaning forward
  • Chronic sore throat and bad breath
  • Chronic toothache or increased tooth sensitivity
  • Increased facial discomfort throughout the day with an increased cough at night
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    Complications Of Nasal Polyps

    Nasal polyps can block your airflow and keep fluids like mucus from draining properly. They also cause lots of irritation and inflammation while theyre forming. All of those things can bring complications, including:

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    Medications For A Sinus Infection

    Deadly sinus infection

    Sometimes, your sinus infection wont go away without care from your primary care doctor or otolaryngologists . Most bacterial sinus infections can be cured with the help of antibiotic medicines a type of medicine that kills bacteria. Antibiotics will help you feel better after a couple days, but its important to finish the entire amount that your doctor prescribed.

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    How Serious Can A Sinus Infection Get

    Sinus infections affect 31 million Americans every year, making them a major health problem. Understanding when your infection is just an annoyance that will go away on its own and when you should seek medical intention is tricky.

    Below is a breakdown of how to know when your sinus infection is serious.

    A Brief Explanation Of The Sinuses And Sinus Congestion

    In order to understand how to clear the sinuses, it is necessary to have a grasp of what exactly the sinuses are, and what is happening when they become congested.

    The sinuses are a series of small air cavities in the skull, located within the cheek bones, behind the nose and in the forehead. They are connected to the throat and nasal passages and represent the uppermost components of the respiratory tract.

    Sometimes, these cavities can become inflamed and filled with mucus and cause sinus congestion. There are many different things which can cause this to happen, and the medicinal treatments will vary depending on the specific cause. Some of the most common diseases and environmental factors which can cause sinus congestion include:

    • The common cold
    • Allergens and dust particles

    Regardless of what is causing it, the symptoms of sinus congestion will usually be the same: uncomfortable pressure in the sinus cavities, headaches, and difficulty breathing linked to the inflammation and mucus buildup.

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    Lingering Sinus Infection Or Chronic Runny Nose

    A lingering sinus infection is different from a chronic runny nose. Chronic runny nose typically comes from allergies or other irritants in the air. However, this can turn into an infection over time.

    When the sinuses become infected, the allergies, irritants, or viral cold have caused swelling in the nose thats blocked the drainage pathways. Consequently, fluid and mucous accumulate in the sinuses, where it has become infected with bacteria.

    If youve been sick more than 10 days and begin to experience other symptoms like facial pressure, headache, and fever, youre dealing with more than a chronic runny nose.

    How To Treat A Sinus Infection At Home

    Will a Sinus Infection Go Away By Itself?

    In the first two weeks of a sinus infection, patients may use saline sprays, over-the-counter steroid sprays like Flonase, and over-the-counter decongestants.

    After 10 days, if the drainage is still colored, an antibiotic is likely necessary. Theres no homeopathic alternative to antibiotics. However, saline spray, topical steroid sprays, and decongestants work well with antibiotics to clear most infections.

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    Can Surgery Fix My Sinusitis

    Surgery can have an important role in the management of sinus infections, regardless of the duration of symptoms. Surgery can clear the nasal and sinus passageways in order to prevent the buildup of mucus and fluids that harbor infection-causing bacteria. By surgically improving the sinus and nasal passageways, surgery also allows for topical medications to reach critical areas further preventing further infections. You may benefit from sinus surgery if you experience 3-4 sinus infections a year, or subacute and/or chronic infections that fail to respond to appropriate medical therapies, or if you have suffered a complication related to sinus infections.

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    When Sinus Infections Become Serious

    Although rare, there are occasions when, left untreated, sinus infections can spread to other parts of the body.

    If the infection spreads to the eyes, it can cause redness, swelling and reduced vision. Cavernous sinus thrombosis, a rare condition, can even lead to blindness. IV antibiotics are needed to treat this kind of infection, and you will probably require hospital admittance and a CT scan to see if fluid needs to be drained.

    If the sinus infection spreads to the head, it can lead to meningitis or a brain abscess, life-threatening medical conditions. To learn more about sinus infections or to schedule an appointment with an experienced ear, nose and throat doctor, contact Foothills ENT and Allergy and Hearing Center today.

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    Teen Dies After Sinus Infection: How To Tell If You Have Complications

    Imaging shows sinusitis of the maxillary sinus and the right meatus.

    Yes, your sinuses are next to some pretty important parts of your body such as your eyes, skull, and brain. Yes, a sinus infection can occasionally spread to these areas and thus have more serious complications. And, yes, on rare occasions, these complications can be life threatening, like what reportedly happened in Michigan to a 13-year-old boy, who died after his sinus infection had apparently spread to his brain, according to Jason Duaine Hahn, writing for People.

    The article in People related the tragic story of how an eighth-grader began having headaches and cold symptoms, which progressed to “migraines” and then to a swollen face with loss of muscle movement on the left side of his face and eventually to blood clots and strokes. As Hahn related, the teen eventually passed away from complications of the infection.

    Indeed, this is a stark reminder of how fragile life can be and how seemingly simple health problems can quickly mushroom into much more complicated ones, even if you are young and otherwise healthy. However, this does not mean that you should freak out just because you have a sinus infection and begin popping antibiotics like they are chocolate-covered potato chips. Not only are antibiotics useless against viruses, which cause many sinus infections, but such medications can also select for antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which are much nastier and more difficult to treat.

    Chronic Sinusitis Complications: Paranasal Sinus Mucocele

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    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.

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