Although rare, the complications of chronic sinusitis can be quite serious. Dr. Patel, what can you tell us about the possible complications of chronic sinusitis?
Well, Dr. Green, many complications can arise if infection spreads to other parts of the body.
One such complication is meningitis. The brain and spinal cord are surrounded by membranes called meninges. When infection spreads and inflames the meninges, it can cause severe headache, fever, and stiff neck. Meningitis caused by a bacterial infection can be very serious, even life-threatening, and requires emergency antibiotic treatment.
It's also possible for a chronic sinusitis infection to spread to the eye socket. This can ultimately cause reduced vision or even blindness that can be permanent.
Other places the infection can spread include the bones and skin. Infection of the bones is called osteomyelitis, and infection of the skin is called cellulitis.
Even if the infection doesn't spread, nasal obstruction and inflammation can cause other complications. For example, if inflammation affects the olfactory nerve, which is responsible for the sense of smell, a person may experience partial or complete loss of smell. This loss may be temporary or permanent.