Many sinus infections go away on their own, even without treatment. Since sinus infections can also be confused for a cold, it’s common for sinus infections to be left untreated.
However, an untreated sinus infection can lead to multiple problems. Your local ENT will break down common issues resulting from untreated sinus infections.
What is a Sinus Infection?
Sinus infections are also called sinusitis. Sinusitis occurs when the tissues lining your sinuses become swollen or inflamed. Usually, your sinuses fill with air, but when you have an infection, they become blocked and filled with fluid. Sinus infections cause symptoms such as congestion, sinus pressure, post-nasal drip, coughing, bad breath, and fatigue.
Common causes of sinus infections include bacteria, viruses, and, in rare cases–fungi. Colds, allergies, and anatomical issues like a deviated septum don’t directly cause these issues but can be contributing factors.
Leaving Infections Untreated: Acute Versus Chronic Sinus Infections
There are two main types of sinus infections: acute and chronic. The two types are separated based on their severity. Acute sinus infections usually have symptoms like a runny or stuffy nose and can last up to four weeks. A chronic sinus infection lasts 12 weeks or more.
Viruses trigger most sinus infections, and these infections will usually clear up with minor treatment or no treatment at all. Sinusitis caused by viruses is typically acute and only lasts up to 10 days. When a sinus infection lasts longer, this indicates that bacteria may be the trigger. Additionally, bacteria can cause sinus infections to return quickly.
Your sinus doctor can help identify the cause of your sinus infection and the most effective treatment.
Side-Effects From Untreated Sinus Infections
As you can see, while acute sinus infections can often be left untreated, chronic infections can cause more significant harm. The most common side effects of sinus infections are similar to allergies, colds, and flu symptoms. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for non-medical professionals to tell the difference between these two types, so it’s important that you visit an ear, nose, and throat doctor if you think you may have a sinus infection. Otherwise, you may experience the following complications.
1. Reduced Ability to Smell
An untreated sinus infection may cause ansomnia, a decrease, or a complete loss of smell. Inflammation and blockage of your sinus passageways or damage to your olfactory nerves cause ansomnia. In many cases, ansomnia is only temporary but can become permanent.
2. Respiratory Problems
Prolonged sinus infections can cause respiratory problems. Trouble breathing may result in your body feeling fatigued as it’s harder to get oxygen to your brain. Your doctor can drain your sinus passages, decreasing inflammation, and help you breathe easier.
Dacryocystitis occurs when a tear sac’s inflammation or infection blocks your tear duct. Dacryocystitis causes tearing, pain, and swelling in the inner corner of your eye and will require antibiotic treatment.
4. Brain Infections
Although rare, sinus infections can also spread to the brain and cause brain abscesses or meningitis. Both of these conditions are life-threatening. Although brain infections usually don’t happen following a sinus infection, they’re all the more reasons to visit a qualified sinus doctor.
Treat Your Sinus Infection With Help From Glatz Group!
At Glatz Group, our team of experienced sinus doctors can help diagnose your problem and recommend treatment, whether you have an acute infection or a more serious condition.
Whether you need some antibiotics or a procedure like a balloon sinuplasty, our qualified team can help you find the best option for you.