I recently read an article on a 13yo teenager who died from a sinus infection last year that spread to his brain. Just wondering how this happened, and if he had gotten treatment earlier, could it have saved his life?
It can. This is happening to the owner of the Edmonton Oilers Hockey team now: [on CBC.ca, May 10, 2019](https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/edmonton-oilers-daryl-katz-sinus-infection-1.5131497)
Sinus infections are especially deadly because they occur in the [danger triangle of the face](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danger_triangle_of_the_face), an area that makes it easier than usual for infections to spread to the brain. Usually something called the [blood-brain barrier](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood%E2%80%93brain_barrier) protects the brain from infections from the rest of the body. But because the sinuses are so close to the central area where blood flows into the brain, infections there can overwhelm the barrier, allowing the brain itself to be infected. This is very dangerous since the brain is fragile and can’t fight infection well. It’s important to get treatment (usually antibiotics) for any infections in your sinuses. Deaths from these infections have dropped dramatically since antibiotics became available.
Before antibiotics, people would die from sinusitis. 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.
In some cases, medication can and will alleviate the pain and pressure, including sinus pressure from the back of the head.
Any infection left untreated can become deadly. You can avoid this by receiving treatment, yes. This is why it’s important to not wait to go and see a doctor when ill.