Acute rhinosinusitis tends to follow a favourable course and have a good prognosis. The appropriate treatment minimises the risk of complications and resolves the condition. In the case of chronic rhinosinusitis, treatment generally achieves good control over the symptoms and patients can have a good quality of life.
Acute complications depend on whether the infection spreads to other organs in the body.
Meningitis. This infection causes inflammation of the membranes and fluids surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
Septic shock. Septicaemia occurs when the veins enveloping the paranasal sinuses are affected and therefore the chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight the infection cause inflammatory responses throughout the body. This inflammation can damage several different organs and cause their failure. If the septicaemia develops into septic shock, the patient suffers a considerable decrease in blood pressure.
Other infections. The infection can sometimes spread to the bones (osteomyelitis) or skin (cellulitis).
Vision problems. If the infection spreads to the eye cavity, it can cause potentially permanent vision loss or even blindness.
Chronic complications are usually secondary to the constant presence of mucus and/or polyps in the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses.
Mucoceles. When mucus accumulates, mucoceles can develop and block the paranasal sinus drainage duct. This mucus retention increases the internal pressure which can lead to the gradual destruction of the weakest walls forming the paranasal sinus.
Partial or total loss of the sense of smell. Nasal obstruction and inflammation of the nerve of smell (olfactory nerve) can cause a temporary or permanent loss of the sense of smell.
Nasal blockage. The inability to breathe through the nose due to the chronic presence of mucus and/or polyps.
Side effects caused by taking long-term treatments.