What is Fungal Sinusitis?

Fungal sinusitis is a broad term referring to a fungal infection in the paranasal sinuses. The infecting fungi can lead to an allergic reaction that results in fungal debris and mucus that blocks and clogs the sinuses.

Those affected by fungal sinusitis often develop chronic sinusitis, which may have a negative effect on their sense of smell. Left untreated, sinusitis can cause serious complications like vision loss.

Causes of Fungal Sinusitis

Normally, your body is capable of fighting off fungal infections. However, other conditions that compromise your immune system can allow the fungal infections to arise and spread easily. Below is a list of conditions that can have an effect on your body's normal ability to fight fungal infections in the sinuses:

  • Diabetes
  • Immunodeficiencies related to genetic problems
  • Leukemia or lymphoma
  • Use of medications to prevent rejection of organ transplants
  • Overuse of antibiotics

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Fungal Sinusitis

The symptoms of fungal sinusitis are consistent with other forms of sinusitis and can include the following:

  • Pain or the feeling of pressure in or around the face
  • Loss of smell
  • Smelling a foul odor constantly
  • Drainage from the nose
  • Nasal congestion

If you have a known immunodeficiency, fungal sinusitis may also produce the following symptoms:

  • Swelling in or around the face or cheeks
  • Facial numbness
  • Changes in the color of your skin, either towards a more pale or darker complexion

Diagnosis of fungal sinusitis will involve your ENT specialist performing a physical exam, analyzing your symptoms, and considering other conditions that may affect fungal sinusitis.

Treatments for Fungal Sinusitis

If you do have fungal sinusitis, your ENT specialist will determine the specific type and treatment options available. Treatment will depend on the particular type and severity of your fungal sinusitis.

With a fungal sinusitis known as saprophytic fungus where the fungus grows on top of mucus or mucus crusts inside the nose, treatment may simply involve the removal of the crusts with nasal washes.

If your fungal sinusitis is considered a fungus ball and the fungus is caught in one of the sinuses, forming a ball or clump of fungus, mucus, and bacteria, a simple surgery may be performed to open and wash out the affected sinus.

If you have an allergic reaction known as fungal sinusitis (AFS), surgery and medical therapy may be necessary to prevent it from recurring. In the event, you have been diagnosed with the most severe form of fungal sinusitis, invasive fungal sinusitis (IFS), surgery and medical therapy may be required as well.


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