This winter has been a doozy when it comes to cold-weather illnesses: the flu season was the worst its been in a very long time, and various illnesses affected everyone in one way or another. And now, at the tail end of this season, we have another devastating story to share. A teen recently died after being sick with a sinus infection, which is extremely sad and very scary. Sinus infections are common and typically not treated as a huge deal, so this death is surprising. It also brings up a serious question: Can you die from a sinus infection?
It’s hard to wonder about the answer, especially after hearing the story of the boy who died. Marquel Brumley was a 13-year-old eighth grader from Michigan who died after the viral sinus infection spread to his brain. Even more devastating? He had been told by his doctor that the virus would clear up by itself weeks before he died.
Brumley started to experience common cold symptoms in the beginning of February, and he was later diagnosed with a viral infection. Without the proper medication, Brumley’s symptoms got worse, and migraines sent him to the hospital, where he was again sent home.
A month later, Brumley’s migraines were still happening, and doctors eventually did an MRI, where they found he had a serious brain infection. He was put into emergency surgery, but a blood clot ultimately led to his death.
We spoke to Dr. Jennifer Wider to ask about the chances of dying from a sinus infection.
Dr. Wider said, “It is a very rare occurrence for a person to die from a sinus infection. In this case, the infection spread into the brain, penetrated the bone, and caused blood clots, which ultimately put too much pressure on the brain, causing a significant decrease in oxygenation.”
So it appears that dying from a sinus infection is just as rare as you thought. Still, it’s not something to ignore completely.
Viral sinus infections may be incredibly common, and they might not seem like a big deal, but they aren’t something you ever want to treat as nothing. This tragic story is an important reminder that, left untreated, many illnesses can become life-threatening.
It’s also an important reminder that doctors aren’t always right. In this case, Brumley would have had a chance if he had been treated properly.
Our hearts go out to Brumley’s family and friends at this time.