Sinus Thrombosis – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Sinus thrombosis

Sinus thrombosis is a special type of thrombosis. The disease is primarily characterized by blood clots occurring in large cerebral veins. Also known as thrombi, these blood clots are concentrated in the hard skin of the brain in the case of sinus thrombosis. This is also called the sinus durae matris with a medical term, from which the name of the disease is derived.

What is sinus thrombosis?

Basically, sinus thrombosis is associated with various complications. A particularly high risk is that they may trigger strokes in the brain . The disease is sometimes referred to as sinus vein thrombosis, but the short form ‘sinus thrombosis’ is more commonly used. The typical symptom of the disease is that a so-called brain sinus closes.

According to the current state of knowledge, the exact prevalence of sinus thrombosis is not known. Estimates of the incidence of the disease are about three to five new cases per million people per year. Female patients are three times as likely to be affected by sinus thrombosis as males.

At the onset of the disease, people are on average between 30 and 40 years old. Sinus thrombosis is far less common than occluded arteries. It is also true that children are less likely to develop sinus thrombosis than adults.


The causes for the occurrence of sinus thrombosis are different. In some cases, infections with pus in the area of ​​the face or suppuration of the paranasal sinuses are responsible for the development of the disease. Meningitis or what is known as mastoiditis can also lead to the formation of sinus thrombosis.

If such causes are present, the disease is also referred to as septic sinus thrombosis. It is also possible that various blood clotting disorders trigger sinus thrombosis. The coagulation of the blood is usually increased, for example in the context of an antithrombin deficiency. In principle, pregnant women are at above-average risk of such coagulation disorders.

In addition, special contraceptives and drugs also have a negative effect on blood clotting. In principle, not every blood clot develops into a sinus thrombosis with the associated symptoms. In some cases, reversal of blood flow is possible or the thrombus dissolves.

Other infectious causes for the formation of sinus thrombosis are, for example , sinusitis , tonsillitis , abscesses on the teeth or in the brain, and empyema. Potential generalized causes of the disease include, for example, tuberculosis or typhoid , measles and malaria .

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Sinus thrombosis is characterized by different symptoms. At the beginning, pain in the head and epileptic seizures and changes in the personality of the affected person are often possible. In later stages of sinus thrombosis, there may be disturbances in vision , clouding of consciousness and paralysis of the body.

Sometimes the affected patients suffer from unconsciousness . If there is sinus thrombosis with infectious causes, people often suffer from fever . This is the case, for example, with meningitis and sinusitis. However, it should also be noted that sinus thrombosis takes an asymptotic course in about one third of all patients.

In the other cases, the symptoms are often ambiguous and do not point to a single disease, making therapy more difficult. The late effects of sinus thrombosis include, for example, increased pressure in the brain, which is associated with significant complications. In the worst case, the sick person dies from sinus thrombosis.

Diagnosis & disease progression

The diagnosis of sinus thrombosis is usually difficult, since the symptoms that occur indicate numerous different diseases. In principle, a doctor should be informed if typical symptoms occur. The doctor will first conduct an intensive discussion with the patient, the so-called anamnesis.

The doctor treating you addresses the exact symptoms, lifestyle and consumption habits of the person. Illnesses from the past are also discussed. This gives the doctor information about the current illness.

After the patient consultation, the focus is on the clinical picture of the disease. For example, in sinus thrombosis, it is indicated to check the D-dimer level. Brain imaging is also used to diagnose sinus thrombosis.

The MRI scan can detect a blood clot or the bleeding that caused it. Within the scope of blood analysis , the blood sedimentation rate and the C-reactive protein are checked as an inflammatory marker. In addition, the number of leukocytes in the blood is determined.


Left untreated, sinus thrombosis leads to death in the majority of cases. Complications such as epileptic seizures, paralysis and impaired vision or consciousness occur beforehand. If the disease is not treated then, blood rushes to the brain and eventually leads to a stroke. A stroke always has serious complications: the person affected usually suffers from neurological and mental deficits or dies shortly after the stroke.

In any case, there is permanent brain damage, which significantly reduces the quality of life and well-being of those affected. Drug treatment of sinus thrombosis can cause side effects, interactions and allergic reactions. The typically prescribed drug heparin often leads to hypersensitivity reactions such as reddening of the skin, itching and burning. In the event of an overdose, the tendency to bleed may increase. In addition, symptoms such as body aches, itching, hives and nausea with vomiting can occur.

Cramps in the bronchial muscles, which are associated with shortness of breath, drop in blood pressure and a lack of blood platelets, cannot be ruled out. Infections can occur when drugs are administered intravenously. With longer therapies, germ colonization can occur within a few days. This often results in thrombophlebitis, bacteremia and/or sepsis. Abscesses and hematomas can also occur.

When should you go to the doctor?

A sinus thrombosis must always be treated immediately by a doctor. The disease does not heal on its own, which is why professional help is always necessary. If sinus thrombosis is not treated, the worst-case scenario can be death if the heart is put under too much strain. A doctor should be consulted for sinus thrombosis if the person concerned suffers from severe headaches or severe neck pain. In most cases there is also a significantly reduced vision, although most of those affected can also lose consciousness.

If these symptoms occur and do not go away on their own, a doctor must be consulted in any case. Epileptic seizures can also indicate sinus thrombosis and should also be treated. In the event of an epileptic seizure, an ambulance must be contacted immediately. Sinus thrombosis can be examined and treated by a cardiologist , which usually requires surgery. The life expectancy of the person affected may also be limited by the disease.

Treatment & Therapy

With regard to the treatment of sinus thrombosis, there are various measures and options. First, the affected patients receive the substance heparin in high doses. Later, over a period of at least six months , anticoagulants are used, which are taken orally.

The drug phenytoin reduces the chance of seizures. If there is increased pressure in the brain , the active ingredient mannitol is usually administered. Sinus thrombosis with infectious causes should be treated with antibiotics . In the majority of cases, the patients recover completely with adequate therapy.


Practical measures for the prevention of sinus thrombosis have hardly been tested so far, so that no reliable statements can be made in this regard.


In the case of sinus thrombosis, it is primarily important to diagnose the disease at an early stage so that complications or other symptoms do not arise later on. As a rule, an independent healing cannot occur, so that the person affected by this disease should always consult a doctor very early on. The sooner a doctor is contacted, the better the further course of the disease.

As a rule, those affected by sinus thrombosis are dependent on taking various medications and drugs to relieve the symptoms. A correct dosage and regular intake should always be observed. This is the only way to properly limit the symptoms.

If anything is unclear or if you have any questions, consult a doctor first. Likewise, no alcohol should be drunk when taking antibiotics, as this can otherwise reduce the effect. Sinus thrombosis can usually be cured relatively easily, so that the life expectancy of the person affected is not reduced. Further aftercare measures are not available to the person concerned and are usually not necessary.

You can do that yourself

In the case of blood flow disorders, the person concerned should ensure that their blood circulation is sufficiently supported in daily activities. In everyday life, postures that could lead to blood congestion should therefore be avoided. Holding a rigid posture or bending a limb contribute to blood flow being compromised. In the case of tingling on the skin, sensory disturbances, cold fingers or feet and a decrease in physical performance, the posture must be optimized.

Since sinus thrombosis can lead to a life-threatening condition, cooperation with a doctor is necessary. In support of this, training units can be carried out independently, which help to improve blood circulation. Regular exercise and wearing loose clothing help to minimize the risk of blood congestion in the body. Traveling long distances should be planned well in advance. The necessary freedom of movement must be taken into account during transport.

In addition, wearing thrombosis stockings in everyday life can be very helpful. Sporting activities should take place regularly so that the blood circulation is stimulated. In addition, blood formation can be promoted through food intake and blood pressure can be stimulated. These are self-help measures that should be viewed as support. A freedom from symptoms or lasting recovery is not achieved as a result.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.