Sinus infection is one of the most common medical complaints in the U.S. Each year, tens of millions of people visit their doctors for symptoms resembling a sinus infection, and many come away with unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics. Indeed, the problem has become so widespread that a backlash has resulted, with governing bodies encouraging patients and their doctors to take a wait-and-see approach to symptoms such as these.
There is good reason for these recommendations. The vast majority of sinus infections will resolve on their own, without any need for antibiotics. Even infections which persist for a while can get better if you simply treat the symptoms: promoting drainage with a Neti pot, or with balloon sinuplasty surgery, can work wonders.
But there are some stubborn sinus infections which last longer than others, and fail to respond to OTC remedies or patience. For these, the dangers can be real; as sinus infections grow, thrive, and worsen, they create the same risk factors which are associated with any serious infection. A growing bacterial population grows can spread into surrounding tissues and begin to do more long-term damage.
The symptoms of serious sinusitis are just what you would expect: persistent pain, including tooth pain; persistent congestion; impaired sensory powers, including a reduced sense of taste and smell; fevers, headaches, and achiness. These are the signs that your sinus infection has graduated into a serious medical condition, and they warrant a stern response.
Absent immediate medical intervention, sinus infections can spread to injure the tissues of the face, skull, and brain. This latest viral story is just one of many grisly incidents reported annually: when infections in the face are left unchecked, the damage may be catastrophic. (Warning: graphic photos are within that story after a click.)
Facial and skull deformities such as these are rare; most people get checked out before the condition becomes too serious. The same cannot always be said for brain infections and abscesses, whose symptoms may be unpredictable and can include anything from headaches and perceptual problems to seizures, stroke, and death.
Again: severe and spreading sinus infections are rare, but they are not unheard of. There is no need to panic if you experience these symptoms for a couple of weeks, but if things continue to get worse, not better, and you get a fever on top of the pain: do yourself a favor and see a sinus specialist in Los Angeles.