Ebola Scares from...Sinus Infections?

Ebola Scares from…Sinus Infections?

Sinus infections can be confused as Ebola

With hospitals across the nation taking extra precautions against Ebola Virus symptoms, an unexpected illness has started causing confusion. Sinus infections.


In October, a Texas clinic shut down for three hours when a man who had traveled in Africa came in for treatment. Although he actually had a sinus infection, or sinusitis, the clinic was closed while he was checked for Ebola. Local residents were warned via a news alert and social media before the misdiagnosis came to light.

The confusion is also hitting the celebrity sector. In Los Angeles in late October, actress Tori Spelling was briefly quarantined when she sought treatment for a number of symptoms, including trouble breathing. It turned out she had bronchitis and a sinus infection, but she was tested for Ebola first.

That said, the confusion works both ways. Thomas Eric Duncan, who eventually became the first diagnosed Ebola patient in the U.S., had sought treatment in late September, when he complained of a headache and stomach pain. He was put on a sinusitis treatment course and prescribed antibiotics, but he returned two days later, still sick. He died on October 8.

Whether it’s Ebola or something much less serious, sinus infections are misdiagnosed frequently. For the record, some of the more common sinusitis symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge (often yellow or green)
  • Stuffy nose
  • Facial pressure
  • Facial pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness when moving
  • Bad breath

diagnosisIf you notice any unusual symptoms, whether for sinus infections or otherwise, check with a doctor right away. This article on Ebola Virus symptoms and others like it are no substitute for in-person care.

Tell your doctor everything you experience

When you speak with a doctor, be as descriptive as possible about your symptoms. Your doctor should be listening to you, because sinusitis is often mistaken for other things, like Acid Reflux, or allergies.

A little detail that might not seem to matter actually could be very telling. No question is silly. No phone call is a bother. There’s no such thing as being too cautious when it comes to your health.


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Other patients should not be seen, according to guidelines.
Patients with flu like symptoms or fever or known exposure to COVID-19
should go to urgent care or speak to their primary care physician.

Be well and don’t hesitate to reach out to us as needed.
The Staff and Doctors of The New York Otolaryngology Group