Fungi are organisms that are found in our environment in the form of microscopic mold or multi cellular mushrooms. More than fifty thousand of these organisms exist in dark, humid environment and some of these fungi also affect humans resulting in infections that can range from minor nasal irritation to life threatening diseases.
The moist dark environment of the cavities present in the human skull is the perfect place for the fungi to thrive. This leads to acute and chronic sinusitis infection caused by Aspergillus and Mucor fungi. The sinus infection is caused by the crippling of the immune system usually due to diseases like AIDS, diabetes or use of certain antibiotics.
There are essentially four types of fungal sinusitis infection. Allergic Fungal Sinusitis is caused by the environmental fungi such as Bipolaris, Alternaria and Curvularia fungi that are present in the air and usually affects people with restricted immune system.
This can lead to development of symptoms such as nasal blockage, sinus headache, cough, sneezing, nasal stuffiness and a runny nose. Treatment involves surgical removal of the thick mucus debris and mucin from the cavities. With immunotherapy and anti inflammatory medical therapy recurrence of this fungal infection is restricted to quite an extent.
Mycetoma sinusitis also known as fungal ball is a type of fungal sinusitis that typically affects the maxillary or the cheek cavities. Caused by the Aspergillus fungi that affects injured or traumatized sinuses, this fungal sinus infection lead to the formation of clumps of spores. Recurrent sinus infections along with nasal blockage and stuffiness are some of the signs of the infection.
Fulminant sinusitis also referred to as acute sinusitis affects immunocompromised patients such as those affected by AIDS or undergoing chemotherapy or bone marrow transplants. This rapidly spreading infection that destroys the sinuses causes nasal obstruction, discharge, severe headaches and even fever.
As the severity of the infection grows, the nasal tissues turn black and the infection progresses to the eye causing blindness or to the brain causing meningitis. Intravenous antifungal therapy and surgical removal is the only way to cure this severe fungal infection.
A rare form of fungal sinusitis infection, chronic sinusitis is the result of a deficient immune system. This invasive fungal infection results in swelling of the face along with chronic headaches.
Based on the type of the infection, doctors may recommend appropriate treatment in the form of antifungal medications or surgical treatment. Decongestants and antihistamines can be prescribed to relive symptoms of the infection.