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Can nasal congestion be fatal? When should you worry?

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Although it is a condition that many people experience often, nasal congestion can become a serious health problem. An otolaryngologist explains when it is necessary to seek medical help.

A stuffy nose can have serious consequences for the body and, in extreme cases, lead to death, warned the expert.

The doctor explained that when there is congestion, your sinuses do not work, which, in turn, means that there is an inflammatory process inside the nose that can lead to sinusitis. Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinus mucosa, he detailed.

Complications around the eyes are the more common of the two. These complications can cause redness, swelling around the eyes, and reduced vision, and even lead to blindness — in a severe form known as cavernous sinus thrombosis.

Serious cases are immediately treated with IV antibiotics. Patients are usually admitted to the hospital for a CT scan to see if fluid needs to be drained, says Raj Sindwani, MD.

Also in rare cases, sinus infections in the rear center of one’s head can spread into the brain. This can lead to life-threatening conditions like meningitis or brain abscess, Dr. Sindwani says.

“Before antibiotics, people would die from sinusitis,” he says.

But he emphasizes that such complications are unlikely.

“In most cases, the bacterial infection goes away, especially if you don’t have underlying medical problems.”

It’s important to monitor your symptoms if you suspect a sinus infection. If the condition lingers or worsens, call your doctor.

Illnesses such as the flu, colds, and sinusitis are often some of the main culprits in causing the nose to become stuffy and inflamed. 

In these cases, the congestion usually improves in about a week. If it is extended for a longer period, it is recommended to consult a professional, says Healthline.

ImageCredit: GettyImages

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