No doubt about it, the symptoms of sinus infection are certainly unpleasant, especially when it seems like they just never go away – or when they seem to return two or three times a year.

If you seem to always “have a cold” or other upper respiratory infection, these recurring bouts of illness may in fact be chronic sinusitis. And if that’s the case, you may find that you’re at risk of developing issues that are even more troubling or debilitating than prolonged periods of not feeling well. Some of the more serious complications or outcomes of unresolved sinus infections are:

Eye Problems

In some cases, recurring or unchecked infections can lead to a condition known as cavernous sinus thrombosis, which causes a loss of vision or even outright blindness. More common eye complications, however, include severe and painful swelling, eye redness, or congestion of the eye. Though not life threatening, these problems can cause temporary issues with vision – and make patients very uncomfortable indeed.

Meningitis

Although rare, some complicated or severe sinus issues have been known to cause meningitis, a life-threatening brain infection characterized by intense headache, high fever, sensitivity to light, convulsions and delirium.

Asthma

Even people with mild to moderate asthma are subject to flare-ups when they experience chronic or recurring infections in the sinuses, due to the stress and inflammation that sinus infections pose to the respiratory system. Symptoms include chest tightness, (non-cardiac) chest pain, wheezing, and coughing.

Blood clots

Repeated or extreme infections in the sinus cavities can cause issues with the vascular system (veins) surrounding the infected cavities. This in turn can lead to an interference with the flow of blood to the brain, or a blood clot, which in turn can lead to a stroke.

Missed work or school

Even though most cases of sinusitis or sinus infection aren’t life threatening, the symptoms they produce frequently make it difficult, if not outright impossible, to carry on with normal activities, particularly school and work.

So what can you do about a sinus infection?

In many cases, rest and proper hydration and nutrition will serve as sufficient treatment of sinus infections. In others, the patient will additionally require antibiotic or anti-inflammatory medication, as well as over-the-counter remedies such as nasal spray, ibuprofen, and decongestants.

Many patients have benefited from osteopathic manipulation, which helps reduce sinus pressure and clear the sinuses of the infected fluids. This in turn promotes healing and reduction of symptoms like facial pain or headaches.

As with any health care concern, it’s best to seek the advice of a physician if you have any troubling or recurring symptoms, and before you take any treatment or remedy.