If you experience a stuffy or runny nose, headaches, or facial pressure more often than not, you may be suffering from a sinus infection or inflammation that requires immediate attention. Millions of people experience sinus infections (sinusitis) at some point in their lives. Most cases go away on their own. But for some people, the extreme and agonizing pain and discomfort of nasal congestion and sinus infections are facts of life and a never-ending nightmare. The symptoms often wax and wane without warning. They can also become extremely dangerous the longer the underlying cause remains untreated. To understand the urgency of getting proper and timely care, consider the following information on the dangers of sinus infections.

What Makes Sinus Infections So Dangerous?

dangers of sinusitis One main reason why sinus infections can become dangerous is their close proximity to the brain and eyes. Serious infections that develop in the sinus and nasal cavities can ultimately spread to the central nervous system and beyond. The longer the sinuses remain inflamed, irritated, or swollen, the higher the chances for severe infections and extreme discomfort.

Untreated sinus infections are not easy to live with, especially if they are unresponsive to moderate treatment measures, such as antibiotics, nasal sprays or nasal steam and irrigation therapies. Award winning ENT specialist, Dr. Alen Cohen offers safe and highly effective treatment options for anyone in the Los Angeles areas who suffers from sinus and allergy-related congestion.

Signs of Severe Sinus Infections That No One Should Ignore

If you wake up groggy, unable to breathe comfortably through your nose, with a pounding headache that may include some annoying nasal discharge, you may immediately assume you’ve caught a cold or the flu. After all, those symptoms are common in acute sinus and allergy sufferers and people who have other respiratory ailments. In most cases, the symptoms generally clear up within a few weeks. However, if you experience those issues persistently throughout the year, on average 10 to 12 times, there may be something more serious going on. Frequent sinus infections are also a sign of recurrent acute rhinosinusitis (RARS) or chronic sinusitis (CRS).

Mild sinus infections are usually more physically troublesome than they are serious. They usually improve with rest and the use of anti-allergy or anti-inflammatory meds or antibiotics. Sinusitis that does not resolve as expected or causes the following changes may mean the condition is far worse and dangerous.

  • Excruciating and sharp pain in the head, ears, throat, or around the eyes that gets worse with movement, lights, or sound.
  • Redness, swelling, or puffiness in the eye area occurs when the infection spreads outside of the nasal cavity into the eye orbitals.
  • A persistent low-grade fever of 101 degrees or higher in the presence of other symptoms.
  • Decreased cognitive function from oxygen and sleep deprivation, leading to confusion, memory, and concentration problems, or brain fog.
  • Snoring and sleep apnea from blocked nasal passages, causing potentially life-threatening breathing difficulties and health complications.
  • Ongoing nasal pain, severe congestion, and discharge from structural issues in the nose, such as nasal polyps, septum deviations, allergies, etc.
  • Recurrent and ongoing cough or asthma type symptoms as well as recurrent pnenumonia.

If you experience any of the above symptoms, make an appointment at the Southern California Sinus Institute with Dr. Cohen immediately.

The Life Altering Complications of Untreated Chronic Sinus Infections

dangers of sinus infections Sinusitis is a byproduct of ongoing inflammation. Chronic inflammation is dangerous. It gradually destroys healthy tissues and organs and can cause serious infections of the brain, eyes and lungs. Do not make assumptions about sinus infections that last 10 to 12 weeks or longer or that recur. Severe complications can initially be asymptomatic or mimic the signs of other health concerns. Treatment delays can increase the likelihood of poor outcomes.

Untreated sinusitis allows bacteria and other harmful pathogens to enter the bloodstream and travel all throughout the body, leading to the following potentially life-threatening conditions.

Meningitis develops when infection targets the brain or spinal fluid. It requires immediate medical attention.

Vision changes occur when sinus infections damage the optic nerves in the eyes. Complications include temporary or permanent vision disturbances or blindness.

Olfactory dysfunction can be partial or complete, meaning some capacity to smell or taste remains. Sinus infections can also cause temporary or permanent damage to the olfactory system, impacting the ability to smell and taste.

Paranasal sinus mucocele cysts are rare, but they can develop when the sinuses cavities become so swollen and inflamed that they no longer allow proper mucus drainage. The trapped mucus develops into cysts that become hard and painful.  The bigger the mass, the greater the pressure on the surrounding nasal structures. The pain and pressure from mucocele cysts can be excruciating and intolerable. Secondary infections cause by mucocele cysts often require surgical intervention as well.

Recurrent pneumonia as well as significant complications of asthma like chronic wheezing, shortness of breath or coughing.

Immediate treatment is necessary to stop the infection and bacteria from spreading beyond the nasal cavity into the brain, eyes, and other parts of the body. Surgical intervention can also prevent additional complications that can severely compromise overall health and quality of life.


Dr. Alen N. Cohen, MD, FACS, FARS, a world famous and award-winning nose and sinus specialist performs minimally-invasive treatments at the Southern California Institute. His areas of expertise include Balloon sinuplasty, deviated septum repairs, turbinate reductions, nasal polyp removal, minimally invasive image-guided endoscopic sinus surgery, and other exclusive options to correct structural and functional issues in the nose and sinus passages to eliminate inflammation and infections so Los Angeles area sinus and allergy sufferers can breathe better and enjoy happier and more productive lives.

Contact the Southern California Sinus Institute

Living with sinus infections can be challenging. The symptoms can become so disruptive that they interfere with your ability to eat, sleep, and even think. In rare and more serious cases, they can lead to other health changes that eventually become chronic or fatal. Contact the Southern California Sinus Institute today at (818) 888-7878 to discuss sinus and congestion treatment options with Dr. Cohen.