What is the prognosis of sinusitis (sinus infection)?

Updated: Mar 01, 2018
  • Author: Itzhak Brook, MD, MSc; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Sinusitis does not cause any significant mortality by itself. However, complicated sinusitis may lead to morbidity and, in rare cases, mortality.

Approximately 40% of acute sinusitis cases resolve spontaneously without antibiotics. The spontaneous cure for viral sinusitis is 98%. Patients with acute sinusitis, when treated with appropriate antibiotics, usually show prompt improvement. The relapse rate after successful treatment is less than 5%.

In the absence of response within 48 hours or worsening of symptoms, reevaluate the patient. Untreated or inadequately treated rhinosinusitis may lead to complications such as meningitis, cavernous sinus thrombophlebitis, orbital cellulitis or abscess, and brain abscess.

In patients with allergic rhinitis, aggressive treatment of nasal symptoms and signs of mucosal edema, which can cause obstruction of the sinus outflow tracts, may decrease secondary sinusitis. If the adenoids are chronically infected, removing them eliminates a nidus of infection and can decrease sinus infection.

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