Sinus infections are a common problem across the U.S.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, sinus infections result in over $16 million worth of doctor visits and more than $1 billion in over-the-counter medicine costs every year.
Quite often, sinus infections are a temporary burden. However, if they are not treated, they can develop into more serious problems, that may have lasting consequences.
How Long Do Sinus Infections Last?
The typical sinus infection can last from between 10 to 28 days. This duration usually applies to infections that are isolated cases of “acute sinusitis” — which is essentially a one-off case. Most of these “one-off” sinus infections will get better with time and specific treatments recommended by your doctor.
For “chronic sinusitis,” or ongoing sinus problems, symptoms will last more than 12 weeks but can persist for years. If you have chronic sinusitis we recommend you talk to a sinus doctor to help treat your symptoms. Chronic sinusitis does not mean your infection is going to get worse over time or that the infection will have an impact on other parts of your body. However it is important that you manage this infection to ensure your daily quality of life remains high.
Sinus Infection Complications
Generally, men experience more sinus complications than women, and these problems are more common during the winter months.
Although sinus complications are rare when a patient is receiving proper treatment, occasionally some of the following problems can occur:
- Loss of smell. This sense is usually decreased during sinus infections. However, nasal obstruction or lasting inflammation of the olfactory (smell) nerve can result in broader changes. Loss of smell, or anosmia, can be temporary or permanent.
- Mucocele. This can happen when there is a blockage that prevents mucus from draining. An infection can spread to the surrounding area, and sometimes surgery may be necessary.
- Eye problems. The eye sockets can be affected by lingering sinus infections. Warning signs include eyelid swelling, soreness, trouble moving the eyes, and double vision.
- Intracranial (skull) problems. In rare cases, sinus infections can lead to meningitis, abscesses and brain inflammation. Some of the warning signs of this problem include a high fever, intense headaches, stiffness in the neck, vomiting, trouble walking, and mental confusion.
- Bone complications. The head’s frontal bone can become infected and can cause the area to swell. Potential signs of this complication are headaches, fever, light sensitivity, swollen eyelids, and vomiting.
These problems require specialized medical help, so if you are suffering from them we recommend you seek medical advice.
It is never to soon to check with a doctor about your sinus problems, and there are no silly questions. If you notice the following symptoms, please seek immediate medical help:
- High fever
- Intense headache
- Vision trouble
- Eye-area swelling
- Stiffness in the neck
- Fatigue and lethargy
Remember, your health is your wealth, so be sure to get medical help and assistance when you need it.