A sinus infection CAN be fatal, though this is extremely rare.
More Info: Sinus infections are generally not a cause for concern. The infection will usually subside with the help of medical treatment and self-care measures. However, if the infection spreads, complications can arise that are potentially fatal including stroke and meningitis.
What Is a Sinus Infection?
A sinus infection is a condition that occurs when the sinuses become inflamed. This condition occurs as the result of a viral, fungal, or bacterial infection. A sinus infection can be classified as acute, subacute or chronic. An acute sinus infection lasts about four weeks. A subacute infection lasts anywhere from four to twelve weeks. Chronic sinus infections can last three months or more. [Sinusitis – PubMed Health.” National Center for Biotechnology Information]
What Are the Complications of a Chronic Sinus Infection?
A chronic sinus infection, that is a sinus infection lasting more than 12 weeks, can spread to other parts of the body causing additional complications. If it spreads to the eye socket, it can cause vision problems that include reduced vision or even permanent blindness. A chronic sinus infection can also cause blood clots in the veins surrounding the sinuses, which can result in an aneurysm or stroke. [“Chronic sinusitis: Complications .” Mayo Clinic]
Meningitis Can Be Fatal
Additionally, a sinus infection can lead to meningitis. Meningitis is a condition that occurs when the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord become inflamed. Meningitis is a very serious condition infecting an average of 1,500 Americas each year, 15% of those infected are adolescents and young adults. An average of 11% of all meningitis cases will result in death. An estimated additional 20% of meningitis infections will result in long-term complications such as hearing loss, brain damage, kidney disease, or limb amputations. [“Meningitis Statistics.” National Meningitis Association]
Preventing Complications Associated with Sinus Infections
The strongest line of defense against the complications that could arise from a sinus infection is to seek treatment early and limit your contact with other sick people. Additionally, smoking can exacerbate the condition by irritating your lungs and further inflaming your nasal passages.
“Sinusitis – PubMed Health.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 May 2012. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealthhttp://www.mayoclinic.com/health/acute-sinusitis/DS00170
“Chronic sinusitis: Complications .” Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 May 2012. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/chronic-sinusitis/DS00232/DSECTION=complications
“Meningitis Statistics.” National Meningitis Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 May 2012. <http://www.nmaus.org/meningitis/>.