Studying how the human nose works has led to some hints on how to fight chronic sinus issues that many people suffer from.

Chronic nasal problems are conditions that last for three months or more and often include inflammation in the nasal passages and the sinuses as the primary symptom. Other symptoms can vary from patient to patient, but usually include a stuffy or runny nose, lethargy, and possibly depression. Serious cases of sinus problems can eventually result in far more serious conditions such as asthma or meningitis.

Half a million people each year visit the ER of their local hospital as a result of sinus related complications, and well over 20 million office visits are scheduled for the same reason. The result is that about three and half billion dollars is being spent annually on a condition that doctors can do almost nothing to treat since it really isn’t understood that well.

The human microbiome has been connected in modern studies with various conditions from obesity to asthma. Because of this, researchers set out with the idea that the microbiome of the human nose would hold the key to unlocking the secrets of sinus problems.

As it turns out, by comparing this microbiome in healthy individuals versus those with sinus conditions differences were discovered. Healthy bacteria was practically depleted from sinus condition sufferers. In mice, this issue was treated with an antibiotic. Next, a bacteria was introduced to the mice. Those who received the antibiotics in advance were not effected. This is because the medicine repaired their rundown microbiome.

Further study revealed the importance of restoring good bacteria to the microbiome in order to ensure that bad bacteria can be fought off despite chronic nasal conditions. It is thought that these bacteria may be the key to future sinus condition treatments.