A Forgotten Study That Could Affect Your Health

In September of 1999, Mayo Clinic researchers announced something that should have forever changed the way your physician responds to the condition known as chronic sinusitis. The symptoms of this familiar malady are:

  • Headaches
  • Stuffy nose
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Persistent cough and postnasal drip

Every family physician is familiar with the condition. Unfortunately, there is normally little that can be offered in the way of a cure. The usual treatment is antibiotics and decongestants, but the success rate is marginal at best. Deal with it.

Why Won’t They Listen?

The news release from the Mayo Clinic—citing results that were later confirmed by researchers at the ENT University Hospital in Graz, Austria—told the medical community why the typical treatment for sinusitis has such a poor track record: most cases of sinusitis are not caused by bacteria, so treatment with antibiotics is a wasted effort. Yet few practitioners listened to the research and changed the way they treat chronic sinusitis.

Why would such an important finding go all but ignored? Certainly, some of it has to do with reluctance to embrace new insights before they have gained across-the-board acceptance. It becomes a “you go first” sort of dance. And it undoubtedly has to do with these types of theories being too preventative in nature. Medicine has become a practice aimed at prescribing drugs to treat symptoms—to get to the root of the problem seems unorthodox and too “natural.” If there isn’t a drug for it, what good is the physician?

Sometimes, we need to pick up the reins of our medical regimen and act on our own behalf. If you suffer from sinusitis, you know how debilitating it can be. Maybe this report can help.

The Findings

Here is the news, as stated by the Mayo Clinic on their website:

“[We] have proposed that most chronic sinus infections may be caused by an immune system response to fungi.”[1]

If true, it is easy to see why antibiotics don’t work with most chronic sinus infections: Most cases of sinusitis may not be bacterial. Most may be fungal—and antibiotics do not work against fungi.

How Do You Spell Relief?

As with all immune system responses, the best preventative measure is to avoid the substance producing the reaction. With an environmental catalyst like fungi, though, that can be nearly impossible. Mold, for example, may be found indoors or out and at any time of the year. Furthermore, it is likely that the one suffering from chronic sinusitis due to fungi is exhibiting more than a normal reaction to fungi—that an allergic response is at work.

Therein is the possibility of a real breakthrough: Treat the sinusitis as an allergy rather than as a bacterial infection. Once the medical community embraces that concept, the treatment regimen will change dramatically.

Meanwhile, here are three pointers that can help right now:

  1. Let your physician know about the Mayo Clinic study and ask to be tested for an allergic reaction to fungi. It may be that desensitization techniques can solve the problem altogether.
  2. Get rid of (or exert control over) all sources of fungi in and around your home: Use a dehumidifier when appropriate, dry up all wet spots and fix all water leaks. Be careful, though. If you use bleach to kill the mold, you may suffer a reaction from the bleach. Use a natural product instead.
  3. Use antihistamines to treat the symptoms, but keep digging at the cause. Find out what you are allergic to and how to overcome the problem.

Don’t wait for the doctor or the drug companies to propose a solution. Act on your own behalf to get the relief you need from sinusitis.

[1] http://www.mayoclinic.org/ent-rst/chronicsinus.html

[custom_author=Lane Goodberry]