What Are Sinus Fungal Balls?

A lump known as a "fungal ball" appears in your sinuses when you breathe in fungus spores. It cannot be treated with medication, but it can be surgically removed by a doctor.

One kind of sinusitis, or sinus infection, is called sinus fungal balls. They develop when a fungus inside one of your sinuses—usually the maxillary sinus—grows into a tightly packed ball.

A fungal ball may exist without any symptoms. Should you experience symptoms, they may be similar to those of other chronic rhinosinusitis types.

A fungal mass may be indicated by imaging studies. An endoscopy is a procedure that a doctor might perform to remove the fungus tumour and confirm the diagnosis. A fungus ball won't disappear by itself.

What causes a fungal ball in the sinuses?

Inhaling fungus spores can cause you to contract a fungal ball. It is unclear to researchers exactly how the fungus creates a fungal ball.

Aspergillus is the most frequent fungus to create a fungal ball. The maxillary sinuses, also known as cheek sinuses, are located under your eyes and on each side of your nose. This is where it typically happens. It can also happen in the area close to your skull's centre, in the sphenoid sinus.

Although they usually only affect one side of the sinuses, fungal balls can occasionally infect both sides.

Who gets sinus fungal balls?

Middle-aged and older persons are more likely to get sinus fungal balls. Retrospective research conducted in 2020 found that the average age upon diagnosis is roughly 54 years old.

Additionally, the study discovered that females had twice as many sinus fungal balls as males did.

Dental work and prior nose surgery are additional risk factors.

What does a sinus fungal ball look like?

Typically, a fungus ball does not extend into the lower nasal passageways where it would be visible. Usually, a medical practitioner has to check inside your sinuses to notice it.

Medical imaging, such as a CT scan, can reveal signs of a fungus ball to a physician. An endoscope, a tube that penetrates inside the sinus, is one tool they can use to confirm and observe the fungus ball.

The fungus ball may have an uneven surface, be spherical, and have a dark brownish colour. It could have a texture similar to clay, seem cheesy, and resemble thick mucus.

What are the symptoms of sinus fungal balls?

Fungal balls frequently exhibit no symptoms at all or are asymptomatic. When doing examinations for other conditions or goals, doctors frequently discover them. For example, if you have a CT scan done for some other reason, the imaging test may reveal a fungus ball.

If you do have any symptoms, they could be as follows:
  • headache
  • crusting in the nasal cavity
  • nasal polyps
  • change in sense of smell (cacosmia)
  • pain when sinuses are pressed
  • postnasal discharge

How do doctors diagnose sinus fungal balls?

A CT scan may be prescribed by your doctor if you have symptoms of a fungal ball or chronic rhinosinusitis. This scan might reveal whether there is a mass inside one of your sinuses.

An endoscope can be used by a physician to access the fungal ball. They can find the ball and take it out using the same process.

The tissue of the ball must be examined under a microscope for a physician to do histology to make a conclusive diagnosis of a sinus fungal ball. This can verify whether and what kind of fungus the ball is composed of.

How do I get rid of a fungal ball in my sinus?

An endoscopic procedure is used to treat a fungal ball. A physician clears the sinus and removes the fungus tumour. For further assurance that the fungus has not spread, they could additionally collect a sample of the mucous and surrounding tissue.

A topical rinse with an antifungal drug may be recommended by a doctor following nasal fungal ball surgery.


The maxillary sinuses on either side of the nose, beneath the eyes, are where fungal balls most frequently appear. They frequently turn up on a CT scan that is done for another reason, and they may not even produce symptoms. Fungal sinus balls are treated via endoscopic surgery to remove them.


What causes a fungal ball in the sinus?

mold or yeast

What does a sinus fungal ball smell like?

Distorted or “bad smells” or like something is rotting, or burning

What do fungal balls look like?

A rounded conglomerate of hyphae, mucus, debris and hyphae

Can you smell a fungal sinus infection?

Decreased sense of smell, a bad smell IN the nose

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