How the sinus infection spreads to the brain?

Although there are various barriers that protect the brain from various pathogens, sometimes bacteria can pass through. The reason is that the space between the sinuses and the brain is very less making it easy for the pathogens to spread. If the infection spreads and infects the brain, it can lead to swelling, seizures, vomiting and abnormal mental health. 

Read more: Stages of sinusitis

Hence, for people looking for the answer to the question can sinusitis lead to brain infection- YES, it can. But remember, only in rare instances this occurs. The likelihood of a patient dying from this condition is very low. 

Symptoms that sinusitis has spread to the brain

A patient experiences severe symptoms when the sinusitis spreads and reaches to the brain. Some of the symptoms including-

  • Changes in vision
  • Sense of numbness
  • Difficulty speaking 
  • Severe headache inside the skull

However, our Pristyn Care ENT specialist explains that headaches can be a symptom of migraine or pressure build up inside the skull that irritates the brain lining. Another cause of headaches could be brain infection. However, if there is an infection in the brain there can be other symptoms.

Also read: How to differentiate between sinusitis and migraine?

Complications of Sinusitis can spread to the brain

  • Cellulitis

In normal instances, the skin should not become red or tender. When sinusitis is left untreated for long, it can lead to cellulitis. This is a skin infection in which the skin swell and inflame. Cellulitis generally occurs due to a bacterial invasion and hence, can become fatal. This infection can spread to the skin around the eyes and can potentially damage to eyes and lead to loss of vision.

  • Meningitis 

Before understanding meningitis, we have to understand what is meninges. Meninges are membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. So, when the sinus infection spreads to the meninges, it leads to its inflammation. This is known as meningitis. Some symptoms of meningitis are- headaches, fever, and stiff neck. 

  • Abscesses 

Delaying of the sinusitis treatment can lead to the formation of the pockets of pus known as abscesses. The formation of abscesses anywhere in the body is not considered safe. Especially, if these pockets form around the eyes or near the brain it can prove to be very fatal. 

  • Thrombosis 

Blood clotting is known as thrombosis. Thrombosis is another complication that can make sinusitis worse. When these blood clots travel through the bloodstream and get stuck in narrowed blood vessels, thus restricting blood flow to that part of the body. If there is a bacterial infection on this clot, it can add more to the problem. 

  • Encephalitis 

Some symptoms of encephalitis include headache, fever or tiredness. Encephalitis occurs when the infection reaches to the brain. Some severe symptoms include hallucinations, paralysis, seizures, or loses consciousness. 

  • Osteomyelitis 

It is defined as the infection of the bone. If the infection of the sinuses is not treated in due time, the adjoining bone can get infected and lead to the falling part of the nose.

How to prevent sinus infection from spreading to the brain?

In order to prevent the infection from reaching the brain, follow the general guidelines of hygiene. Also, get in touch with an ENT doctor without any further delay. Some of the preventive measures to keep in mind are-

  • Wash the hands with soap and water regularly.
  • Do not touch the eyes, nose and mouth after sneezing
  • Pay attention to the symptoms 
  • Avoid taking antibiotics regularly to prevent the bacteria from getting drug-resistant 

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