Sinus infection is a common disease that involves blockage and inflammation of nasal and para-nasal sinuses. Sinusitis is a more familiar term for sinus infection. Sinusitis can be of two types; acute and chronic. Acute sinusitis is more common; it is rapid in onset and heals after few days of treatment.
Usually acute sinusitis is caused by bacteria and virus infection. In comparison with these two organisms, fungal sinus infection is rare in occurrence.
What Causes Sinus Fungal Infections?
The two major species responsible for most of the sinus fungal infection are Aspergillus and Mucor. Both of them were believed to be prevalent among individuals who have immune-compromised state, such as people infected with HIV virus or persons suffering from diabetes or a person taking steroids for long time etc.
However, recent studies indicate that fungus infection in the para nasal sinuses can also occur in a healthy individual having good immune status. Further fungus invasion of the para-nasal sinuses can be of two varieties invasive and non invasive.
In invasive type the fungus can proliferate in the mucus lining of the sinuses, blood vessels and it can invade the bony structure. While non invasive variety of sinus fungus infection usually affects only the mucus lining of the sinuses.
Symptoms Of Fungal Infection In Sinuses
Symptoms of sinus fungal infection are nearly same as that of sinusitis caused due to bacteria and viruses. However, the symptoms vary from person to person and the state of his health due to the underlying disease. It also depends on the strain of fungus involved.
It may cause mild discomfort when the immune system is fine and the overall condition of the person is healthy. However, sinus fungal infection can be a cause of worry when there is low immunity in an individual. Sometimes it can be a life threatening condition. The symptoms may also differ when there is allergic fungal sinusitis, acute invasive fungal sinusitis, a fungal ball etc.
Given below are some of the common symptoms noted in different types of fungal sinus infection.
- Pain in and around the sinuses.
- Headache in frontal region. One sided or bilateral headache. Headache starts from the front portion and extends up to the base of the skull.
- Person finds difficulty to breathe due to blocked nose.
- Thick nasal discharge that is dark brown or black.
- Loss of smell.
- Patient may give a history of discharge of gravel like material from the nose.
- Sore throat.
- Decreased appetite.
- Weakness and fatigue.
- Ulceration on the nasal septum, turbinate.
When the physician suspects fungus sinus infection, he conducts certain tests such as cultures of the sinus secretion, X-ray and MRI of the para nasal sinuses.
Treatment For Fungal Sinusitis
Once the diagnosis is confirmed as sinus fungal infection, the mode of treatment will depend on the condition of the patient as well as how far the fungus infection has spread, whether it is invasive or non invasive.
- Surgery is indicated in most of the sinus fungal infection. It is the treatment of choice. With conservative medical treatment, there is always a chance of recurrence. With surgical drainage and cleaning of the sinuses there are less chances of recurrence. The affected tissue material can also be removed. For example in case of sinus Mycetoma (a fungus ball), once the fungus ball is eliminated there is no need for any further medical treatment.
- Anti fungal treatment: only anti fungal therapy and other medicines may be initiated when the patient is not able to bear surgical stress or if the patient’s condition is serious and surgery is contraindicated.
- Home remedies and tips: because mold is considered to be a common cause for sinus fungus infection, try to prevent dampness in your house or stay away from damp surrounding. Keep your rooms clean and dry. Whenever mold is found, clean the area with bleaching powder and detergent.
- Garlic is considered to be an effective anti fungal remedy. Eat one or two cloves of garlic when there is sinus fungal infection. You can also put two to three garlic oil drops, or chopped garlic in water and inhale the steam.
- Eat nutritious food and try to maintain a healthy lifestyle.