Does Sinus Infection Lead to Pneumonia?

Sinus infection – a.k.a. sinusitis – can be very bothersome, though many times it’s mild or not serious. But in a few cases, it may turn serious. For example, the infection can spread to other areas of the body which then may lead to serious complications. A challenging question, does it also lead to pneumonia?

What actually is sinus infection?

The word ‘sinusitis’ simply points to the irritation of sinuses, a linked system of hollow air-filled cavities in the skull such as:

  1. In the cheekbones, where the largest size of sinus cavities (about an inch across) are located.
  2. In the low-center of the forehead, here you have the frontal sinuses.
  3. Sphenoid sinuses can be found in bones behind the nose.
  4. And between your eyes.

Another thing you need to know, not all cases of sinusitis are the same! For example, the infection can be triggered by virus or bacteria.

The sinuses produce mucus that drains into the nose. The infection can lead to the obstruction in the small channels that drain mucus to the nose, causing the following symptoms:

  1. A blocked /runny nose. Many times, this is followed with a decreased sense of smell.
  2. The infection can also be quite painful, particularly over the affected sinus.

The only way to clearly figure out whether you have sinus infection or just a common cold is by swabbing inside your nose to look for any inflammation. But specific tests are often not required to diagnose this infection, because it is usually a mild problem and will relieve on its own.

The same goes for the treatment. It is not always necessary to treat the infection.

In general, it’s recommended to wait a few days before seeking the treatment. Sinus infection often improves itself in that period of time with lifestyle measures (with nothing more than rest and drinking plenty of water).

But if it hangs on, you may need to see a doctor. If the infection doesn’t get better, antibiotics may be prescribed – particularly true if there is bacterial infection.

The use of antibiotics may also help ward off potential problems when the infection spreads to other areas of the body – though this is rare in sinusitis.


It is an inflammation (swelling) of the lung’s tissue, typically triggered by a bacterial infection. The inflammation can occur in one or two lungs.

Streptococcus pneumoniae, a kind of bacteria, is often to blame for the cause of pneumonia. The problem may also be triggered by other bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus and haemophilus influenza, as well as some kinds of viruses – and even in rare cases the problem can be caused by fungi, too.

At the end of the breathing tubes, we have the clusters of tiny air sacs called alveoli. In pneumonia, some of these alveoli get swelled and cannot work as well as they should because they are filled up with fluid – causing some of the following symptoms:

  1. One of the most common symptoms is dry cough. Cough may come up with green, brown, or yellow mucus. Or it might also produce blood-stained mucus.
  2. The inflammation of alveoli can make it harder for breathing. People with pneumonia often experience shortness of breath. The breathing may be shallow and rapid.
  3. The lungs and heart can affect each other. The infection in the lung may also cause increased heartbeat.
  4. Tightness in the chest, especially when coughing or breathing.
  5. Fever, appetite loss, or general feeling of poor health.

The symptoms can vary. People with pneumonia may also experience the following vogue symptoms; fatigue, headaches, wheezing, muscle /joint pain, confusion, nausea, and vomiting.

Will sinus infection lead to pneumonia?

Experts classify respiratory infections into two main groups, upper and lower respiratory tract infections. Sinusitis is one of upper respiratory tract infections. And for pneumonia, it is a kind of lower respiratory infection.

As mentioned before that sinus infection can also spread to other parts of the body. Although this is rare, but some people wonder whether it can lead to infection in the lower parts of the respiratory system such as the lungs.

So is sinus infection linked to pneumonia? Again sinusitis is usually not serious – the body immune system is often able to successfully fight against the infection. But if it does cause serious complications, the main ones are as follows: