Sinus Headaches

What Is Fungal Sinusitis?


Sinusitis is caused due to viral, bacterial or fungal infection. Fungal sinusitis is a term used to refer to the condition when the sinus is infected by a fungal infection. As the sinuses are dark and damp cavities, they provide a favorable environment for fungi to breed.

This form of sinusitis is uncommon and accounts for about five to ten percent of the total cases of sinusitis. The condition can most commonly occur in individuals with weak immunity levels, such as those suffering from AIDS, diabetes, leukemia. It can also take place in individuals who are immunosuppressed or have a long history of using corticosteroids.

Some of the fungi that causes are Bipolaris, Curvularia, Exserohilum, Mucormycosis, Metarrhizium anisopliae and the most common Aspergillus. There are four types of fungal infections of the sinuses. These are Allergic Fungal Sinusitis, Mycetoma Fungal Sinusitis, Fulminant Sinusitis and Chronic Indolent Sinusitis. The first two are kinds of noninvasive fungal infection of the sinuses and the last two are types of invasive fungal infection.

Allergic fungal sinusitis is supposed to be an allergic reaction caused in response to fungi in surrounding environment. This condition occurs in individuals who are not immunocompetent or have a history of chronic rhinitis. Common symptoms include headache, coughing, nasal discharge and stuffiness. It is characterized by development of thick fungal remains and a secretion containing glycoprotein. Surgery is often used to treat the condition.

Mycetoma sinusitis leads to the production of a fungal ball within a sinus cavity. A feeling of general discomfort in the infected region is prominent in patients suffering from this type of sinusitis. A procedure involving scraping of the infected sinus is used to treat this condition.

Fulminant sinusitis is observed in individuals with defective or weak immune systems. The disorder leads to rapid devastation of the sinuses and can even extend to the cavities of the eyeball and the brain. Symptoms include chronic headache, nasal discharge, presence of ulcers on the palate or septum or turbinates, cough and fever. Treatment consists of anti-fungal therapy along with surgical extraction of the accumulated fungal debris.

Chronic indolent sinusitis, like Fulminant sinusitis is observed in patients with weak immunities and a case history of long-extended sinusitis. Symptoms include facial swelling, severe headaches and visual impairment. Treatment comprises of anti-fungal therapy along with surgical procedures applicable to Fulminant sinusitis.

CT scans are useful in an effective diagnosis of fungal sinusitis. An early diagnosis, on-going, effective treatment aimed at correcting the underlying cause responsible for the infection can ensure successful treatment of  this chronic condition.