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What Parents Need to Know About Invasive Sinus Infections

What Parents Need to Know About Invasive Sinus Infections

 Guest Post by Katy Fleming, MA, LPC, BSN, RN

At some point in childhood, our kiddos will come down with sinusitis, a sinus infectionWhen your little one’s stuffy nose won’t go away, the inflammation often leads to pressure and pain in their face. 

This infection of the sinuses is sometimes caused by a fungus leading to a potentially serious and invasive sinus infection.

What Parents Need to Know About Invasive Sinus Infections

Primarily affecting children and adults with a weakened immune system, invasive fungal sinusitis causes nasal congestion and sinus pain with the risk of traveling to the brain.

What Parents Need to Know About Invasive Sinus Infections

Learn more about the classifications, causes, and treatment of this rare infection.

Causes of Sinus Infections

It’s important for our sinuses, or the air-filled spaces in your skull, to properly drain. Inflammation from a cold or allergies causes a build-up of fluid and leads to a sinus infection. 

The majority of sinus infections are caused by viruses and treatable at home. Sometimes, sinusitis starts with a bacterial infection, which requires an antibiotic. 

In rare cases, exposure to fungi leads to a sinus infection and may result in more serious health problems. 

Several types of fungus exist from mildew to mold. Fungi cause different infections such as yeast infections and thrush.

Invasive vs. Non-Invasive

Fungal sinusitis usually remains within the nose and sinus cavities and is considered non-invasive. 

When this infection spreads to other parts of the body, such as the eyes and the brain, it’s considered invasive and life-threatening. 

There are 3 main types of invasive fungal sinus infections:

1. Acute invasive fungal sinusitis: 

Typically caused by inhaling fungal spores, this type of invasive sinus infection is very aggressive. 

After the fungi destroys the blood vessels in the nose, the tissue dies and this infection quickly spreads to other parts of the body. 

Most individuals with this type have weakened immune systems often because of cancer treatment or organ transplant anti-rejection medication. 

2. Granulomatous invasive fungal sinusitis (GIFS):

In this rare form, the individual’s immune system begins to attack the nasal tissue after exposure to the fungus. 

GIFS is typically found in Nothern Africa, the Middle East, and Africa. 

3. Chronic invasive rhinosinusitis:

Similar to acute invasive fungal sinusitis, but this type doesn’t spread as quickly. It occurs over months to years and is more commonly found in those with diabetes.

What Parents Need to Know About Invasive Sinus Infections


Symptoms of fungal sinus infections include: 

  • A headache
  • Pain or pressure in your sinuses
  • Decreased sense of smell
  • Runny or stuffy nose 
  • Fever
  • Swelling 

Invasive fungal sinusitis may lead to eyeballs sticking out from the eye sockets, vision changes, behavioral changes, difficulty thinking, facial numbness, or changes in skin color.


Identifying the problem starts with your child’s doctor asking some questions about their symptoms and health history. 

The healthcare provider will most likely swab their nose for a sample of mucus to test for fungus. 

A CT scan provides detailed images of the body and can assist in locating the infection in your child. 

Further imaging is sometimes obtained through an endoscopy, a procedure inserting a long tube with a camera into your child’s nose. 

Treatment Options For Invasive Sinus Infections

If left untreated, invasive sinus infections may lead to death. It’s important to seek medical attention immediately if your child has a weakened immune system and shows signs of a sinus infection. 

Children battling cancer and receiving aggressive chemotherapy treatment are at high risk.

Medical treatment for invasive sinus infections may include: 

  • Medication such as corticosteroids and antifungal medication.
  • Nasal wash to clean the sinus cavities. 
  • Surgery to remove the fungus or damaged tissue.

Want More Parent-Approved Tips? Check these out: 

If your little one has symptoms of a sinus infection and it isn’t getting better, contact your pediatrician. 

What Parents Need to Know About Invasive Sinus Infections

If your child received an organ transplant or underwent chemotherapy, seek immediate medical attention for any signs of an invasive sinus infection.
Check out the NozeBot, a hospital-grade electric nasal aspirator, to keep your little one’s nose clear of congestion.

As a licensed counselor and registered nurse, Katy approaches freelance writing with years of experience and a unique perspective. Alongside her partner, Katy loves to travel the world and embrace other cultures from volcanoes in Iceland to villages in India. 

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The Nozebot is a battery-powered suction device designed to clear nasal congestion in babies and children.

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