Obviously, there are any number of things which can trigger a nose infection, a condition which most all of us experience at one time or another. In fact, a significant percentage of the general population suffers for one or another type of nose infection a number of times during their lifetime.
It’s just short of amazing that we don’t have a nose infection of one kind or another almost constantly, as one of the major functions of the nose, besides breathing and smelling, is the filtering out of bacteria, viruses, and other bad stuff in the air we don’t want to reach our lungs. Once in awhile, some of that bad stuff will settle in the nose or in the nasal passages and cause an infection. Most commonly, nose infections involve bacteria or viruses that come from elsewhere, with Staphylococcus bacteria usually being the major culprit.
Rhinitis – Another very common nose infection goes under the title of rhinitis. The main symptom of rhinitis is what we generally refer to as a runny nose, although swelling and inflammation of tissues and membranes in the nose and sinus may be present as well. When someone is suffering from acute, or short term rhinitis, a decongestant may be all the treatment that is needed. If rhinitis becomes chronic, there may well be an allergy involved, meaning that certain allergens will need to be avoided, and to alleviate the symptoms the affected person may require corticosteroid nasal sprays or antihistamines. There are several different types or categories of rhinitis, though the symptoms are generally about the same.
Sinusitis – Sinusitis is another common type of nose infection, affecting upwards to 5% of the general population. Sinusitis usually consists of more than a runny nose, in fact is more apt to cause congestion instead. Congestion due to sinusitis can often be accompanied by headaches, a general tenderness in and around the nose, especially the sinus cavities, and at times pain. If sinusitis becomes chronic, the affected person’s sense of smell may be compromised to one extent or another.
Nose Polyps – Sometimes a nose infection, especially sinusitis, can result in polyps forming in the chambers of the nose and in the sinuses. These polyps can over time make breathing difficult, and make any congestion experienced even worse. When this is the case, the polyps will need to be surgically removed, an outpatient procedure. The polyps may or may not return. The infection causing these polyps is referred to as allergic fungal sinusitis, where the presence of a fungus causes an allergic reaction eventually leading to the formation of the polyps.
A Potentially Serious Infection – A more serious condition, also involving a fungal nose infection, is called invasive fungal sinusitis. Invasive fungal sinusitis may come about because a person has a weakened immune system. While starting out as a simple nose infection, this condition can spread, sometimes quite rapidly, from the nasal and sinus passages, to the eye socket, where permanent damage to the eye could occur. In more extreme cases, the fungal infection could spread even further potentially resulting in a fatal outcome.
Fortunately, incidents of invasive fungal sinusitis and allergic fungal sinusitis are relatively uncommon. If more people were aware of these infections, there might be a little less complaining about having a runny nose, which is seldom fatal unless it is a symptom of something far more serious. Most of us can look forward to having a nose infection of some kind from time to time, usually due to a cold or due to an allergy, and most of the time an over the counter medication provides all the relief we need, if indeed any relief is needed.