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Sinusitis, in its initial stage, can be treated at home by following certain remedies like steam inhalation and drinking plenty of fluids. However, chronic sinusitis or complications arising from sinus infection which is left untreated, should be taken seriously.

Sinus Infection Symptoms and Complications

Sinus problems mostly occur as a result of a viral infection. Some of the common symptoms of sinus infection include:
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nasal discharge
  • Headache
  • Facial pain
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Bad breath
  • Fatigue
The symptoms also depend upon the sinus which is infected. These symptoms become severe if the infection is not treated at the right time. Here are the most common symptoms, which a person may experience if the infection is not treated in time.

Frontal Sinusitis
Frontal sinusitis can cause pain in the forehead which worsens when a person lies down. If left untreated, it may lead to osteomyelitis. Osteomyelitis is the infection of the facial and forehead bones. In such a condition, the person experiences fever, headache and an inflammation of the bone called Pott's puffy tumor.

Maxillary Sinusitis
This causes pain in the cheekbone, around the eyes, in the upper teeth and jaws. The pain can be felt either on one side or on both the sides. If left untreated, an infection in the maxillary sinuses can lead to the formation of blood clots, in rare cases. If a blood clot forms in the sinus area, the eye pupil may become dilated and fixed. The symptoms of maxillary sinusitis are fever, nasal congestion, cough, runny nose, toothache, headache and facial swelling and pain around the cheeks. These symptoms may worsen with time if the infection is not treated.

Ethmoid Sinusitis
Ethmoid sinusitis causes pain between the eyes and on the sides of the nose. Headache is felt around the temple or around the eyes. The pain symptoms worsen when a person lies down on his back or when he coughs. Nasal discharge, foul breath, eyelid swelling, sore throat and loss of smell are some of its other symptoms. If timely treatment is not taken, these symptoms may aggravate or a complication like orbital infection may occur. This may lead to inflammation and dropping of the eyelid, causing vision problems.

Sphenoid Sinusitis
This causes pain in the forehead, on top of the head and behind the eyes. It may cause pain in the neck and ears, too. Nasal discharge is also experienced. If not diagnosed at the right time, a complication of frontal and sphenoid sinusitis may lead to brain infection. Brain infection is caused by anaerobic bacteria which spreads this infection to the brain through the blood vessels or through the bones. The symptoms include visual problems, mild personality changes, headaches, seizures and sometimes even death.

Besides these complications which occur due to an infection in a particular sinus, other complications that may arise due to an untreated sinus infection are as follows:

Sinus infection, if left untreated, can cause an infection in the ear canal leading to immense pain in the ear. It may affect both the inner ear and the middle ear and may lead to auditory impairment in severe cases.

Chronic sinus infection can weaken the immune system and produce various other symptoms like facial pain, pus in the nasal cavity, nasal congestion, thick nasal discharge and fever.

It can lead to anosmia (absence of the sense of smell).

In rare cases, sinus infection can lead to meningitis (an infection of the brain). The symptoms include, headache, stiff neck, fever and nausea.

Untreated chronic sinusitis may also aggravate and worsen the symptoms of asthma.

It may also create severe resistance to antibiotics causing the infection to aggravate further.

In extreme cases, surgery may be required to treat sinusitis if timely treatment is not received.

During the initial stage, doctors generally prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. However, if a complication arises or if the sinus infection becomes chronic, it is recommended to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.