Chronic Sinus Issues Stem From Unlikely Source
For those of you who deal with constant or chronic sinus issues, you are not alone: There are millions of sufferers in the U.S., with it actually being of the most common complaints among patients. The problem, though, is that doctors have somewhat been at a loss as to how to go about treating this persistent problem. One of the reasons it has been so difficult to treat is that its source was not clearly understood. Scientists decided to set up an experiment where they could learn once and for all where this sinus condition (known as chronic rhinosinusitis) originated.
Over the years, the number of theories as to what caused this frustrating condition has grown. The reasons range from allergies to infection to gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. Treatments to cure the problem also vary across the board. These include things like antibiotic treatments and even surgery to open up the nasal passages. Unfortunately, these treatments are not usually successful or don’t work with all patients. Fortunately, scientists may have finally figured out the main cause of the condition.
While closely examining what made nasal passages become chronically inflamed, researchers found that the cause was something that really posed no threat to health. How so? Previously, it was thought that perhaps some virus, bacteria or fungi infected the area and caused the reaction. Instead, it was discovered that the body harbored a number of bacteria colonies that peacefully coexisted, and that these seem to cause no harm and are normally found in various areas. During their studies, researchers found that these colonies set off an immune system response in some people. Nasal passages then become inflamed. Seeing as the bacteria are usually present, the inflammation becomes a constant factor. The bottom line is that some people have an overzealous immune system that, for whatever reason, attacks even when there is no threat.
Doctors and researchers are hopeful that these findings not only offer a better understanding of the condition but, also, lead to a cure.
There is a health condition that afflicts more Americans annually than common conditions like asthma and heart disease. It’s called a sinus infection, or sinusitis. Perhaps you have been plagued by this affliction. A person suffering from sinusitis will experience stuffiness, headaches, pain in the temples and cheeks, a colored nasal discharge, difficulty breathing through the nose and perhaps even a fever. These symptoms may persist. While the common prescription for sinusitis is an antibiotic, as many as one in five of those afflicted do not respond to the treatment and experience recurring sinus infections. What can be done?
A recurring sinus infection is called chronic sinusitis. It may be corrected with a surgery that is very minimally invasive. This surgery is called Balloon Sinuplasty. It uses balloon-like devices to gently alter the size and shape of the sinus cavities, thus providing relief from sinusitis symptoms and helping to prevent recurrence of the disease.
Balloon Sinuplasty involves the placement of an FDA approved catheter type devices into the sinus areas to keep them open. They are inflated gradually (hence the term balloon) and gently move the bones and tissue that would be removed in traditional sinus surgery. The open sinuses don’t retain as much material that can become infected and result in sinusitis. This is usually an outpatient surgery and is performed in less than one hour.
You ear, nose and throat doctor (otolaryngologist) can receive specialized training to learn how to perform such a surgery. It is vital for someone suffering from chronic sinusitis to see such a specialist. If antibiotics have not provided relief from your sinus infections, be sure to ask your doctor to recommend an otolaryngologist for you to see.
You’ve probably heard it said that you can tell if you have a virus or a bacterial infection by the color of your mucus. Clear means you just have to wait it out. Greenish yellow means it’s time to head to the doctor for some antibiotics. But is this always the case? No.
Many times, discolored mucus is the result of a sinus infection. The problem is that some sinus infections are viral, and the great majority are caused by a fungus. If your sinus infection is fungal or viral, antibiotics won’t help. You may feel some lessening symptoms if you get bed rest and drink plenty of fluids, but it isn’t the antibiotic that is helping. More likely the antibiotic is what is causing your stomach discomfort. At the same time, your body is building up resistance to the antibiotic. Now, if you actually get a bacterial sinus infection, the same antibiotic may not be able to fix the problem.
So what is up with the green mucus? It’s actually caused by iron, which gives off a greenish color. When you have an infection, your body produces extra white blood cells to fight it off. These cells produce an enzyme which breaks down the bacteria. Iron is found in the enzyme, resulting in the discolored mucus. The longer it hangs out in your sinuses, the more green it will appear when you finally expel it. In fact, early morning mucus can be discolored just because you’ve been sleeping all night and haven’t been able to clear it out. So don’t assume you have a bacterial infection just because your first nose-blowing session in the morning creates a discolored mess.
The only time to really get worried is when your mucus resembles pus when you blow it out or cough it up. Just taking a couple of days off to rest and drink fluids is usually enough to get past sinusitis. Try a nasal decongestant or a sinus rinse to recover more quickly. If your symptoms persist for over a week, then a doctor’s visit is prudent.
When pressure increases in the air around you, your Eustachian tubes are responsible for balancing things out inside your ears. The problem is that these tubes can be blocked by allergies, sinus problems or a cold. The result is discomfort and potentially an ear infection.
The Eustachian tubes are tiny. They only measure about 1.5 inches in length. These tubes, which are only a few millimeters in diameter, connect your ears, nose and throat. The tubes open and close depending on what you are doing. During speech, or while yawing and swallowing, the tubes open. Fluid from your ears drains to the back of your throat by means of these tubes. They also occasionally open up to allow pressure to be regulated.
If you are suffering from a cold or allergies, swelling may cause the Eustachian tubes to be unable to perform their usual function. Sinus congestion can also block these tubes. In children, a buildup of fluid can be dangerous and result in temporary or even permanent hearing damage. Children are more susceptible to inner ear problems because their Eustachian tubes are not done developing and cannot drain fluid down the throat like they do for adults.
Sometimes flying on an airplane can increase problems with the Eustachian tubes because of the cabin pressure changes. To limit this effect, you may wish to chew gum. This will increase saliva production and cause you to swallow more frequently. Frequent swallowing will keep the Eustachian tubes open.
There are a number of different ways to treat ear aches that are caused by Eustachian tube issues. Proper breathing techniques can be of assistance. Also, if an infection occurs, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic for you. If the problem is due to inflammation, a corticosteroid may be prescribed to reduce the swelling and help fluid to drain. A final option is the surgical implanting of tubes into the ear drums to keep swelling from being able to block the tubes. This procedure is more frequently performed on children in an effort to preserve their hearing when it is being threatened by frequent or severe Eustachian tube blockages.
It’s summertime! – time to enjoy some fun in the sun while you can. Whether you want to hit the beach, the golf course or the local pool, there’s one thing that can get in your way of enjoying yourself to the full – a runny nose accompanied by sneezing. Do you have the dreaded summer cold? – maybe not, but unfortunately you might be even more upset about the real answer.
We usually associate allergies with the spring and autumn seasons, but summer allergies are becoming more and more common. In fact, many who struggle with allergies are now waging war all year around.
What are some of the most common summer culprits? For many it is pollen from grass. The smell of fresh cut grass may be welcoming in summertime, but not so if it elicits a fit of sneezing. The other major enemy is mold. Even at its peak season, pollen is never as prolific as mold is all year long. For those who suffer from allergies perpetually, mold is often the trigger.
Just because you have never had allergies in the past, don’t write this summer’s sniffles off as a cold yet. Summer allergies can come on suddenly and without warning, even for those who don’t have a history of seasonal allergies. So how can you tell what is causing your nose to run? Here are a few things to look out for.
Colds won’t usually hang on for any longer than two weeks. If your symptoms aren’t going away, it’s time to start thinking about allergies. Did your symptoms come on all at once or gradually? If you woke up with your throat sore one morning and gradually developed symptoms over the next few days, a cold is more likely. With allergies, all of the symptoms typically present together.
Unfortunately, the color of your mucus is not a good determination. Colds and allergies both typically create clear mucus – if you are producing yellow or green stuff, you likely have an infection. Itchy eyes can be the biggest tell-tale sign. This doesn’t usually accompany a cold, so if the sniffling is combined with uncomfortable eyes, you can usually bet on an allergy.
Get plenty of rest and fluids if you have a cold. See your doctor if you think you have an infection. If you have severe seasonal allergies, you may want to consider allergy shots.
The blood-brain barrier prevents 98% of conventional drugs from reaching the central nervous system directly, and as a result it is very difficult to treat the more than 20 million Americans who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases and other CNS problems.
Therefore at present many conditions are either deemed untreatable, or at least difficult or dangerous to treat. However, the nasal lining (called mucosa) may hold the solution to this issue.
Numerous other methods to bypass the blood-brain barrier have been attempted in the past, but these have proven very dangerous – a catheter being implanted in the brain for example is prone to infection, and can also become dislodged. Clearly these methods are only temporary, and cannot be used on a permanent basis.
Recent studies have shown that the mucosa may be the link that can be used to bypass the CNS’s defense mechanisms and treat neurological diseases. Researchers began by observing modern technology used to perform surgery in the sinus area with scopes instead of more invasive procedures, and were able to determine what would be needed in order to deliver medication directly to an animal’s brain via the mucosa.
Mice are the proposed subject, and initial models suggest that using the mucosa will allow the blood-brain barrier to be bypassed by molecules up to 1,000 times the size that would normally be able to be inserted into the CNS, meaning that many more conventional treatment options would become available.
Such surgical techniques have been well-documented and used successfully in many types of procedures – researchers are also hopeful that in this case the procedure will be viable as a means of drug therapy for those with neurodegenerative diseases and other CNS conditions.
Studies will continue to be undertaken with patients who have successfully undergone surgeries in the past involving these endoscopic methods.
A sinus headache can be one of the most debilitating consequences of suffering from sinus problems. If you suffer from chronic sinus issues you may well have made repeat trips to the doctor – here are a few tips on effective ways to curb the pain a little without having to leave home.
Some people experience sinus issues due to dry air conditions – if this is the case for you a humidifier may help. These add moisture to air, especially useful when it is particularly dry in the wintertime. If you can’t afford a humidifier or are not sure if one would help you, try running hot water in the shower and hanging out in the bathroom as it steams up. If this helps relieve some of the pressure, a humidifier would be a great investment.
Another possible solution is a sinus rinse. You have likely seen Neti pots or other sinus rinse delivery methods – these are simple, daily use relief methods. Be sure to read the package carefully and follow all cautions, such as not using tap water which can contain dangerous bacteria.
Saline nasal sprays can loosen mucus in the nasal cavity, so if you constantly fight with feeling stuffy this may help relieve some of your symptoms – since these are essentially just salt water you can use them several times a day without any harmful side effects. Decongestant nasal sprays cannot be used as frequently and prolonged use may actually worsen you problem, so be careful with these.
Old school airlines had it right in first class – a warm compress can do a lot for relaxation! It can also relieve some sinus pressure and help with your headache – just refresh the warm water when the compress starts to cool. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help too, especially ones that have anti-inflammatory properties -these will reduce sinus swelling and may at least take the edge off the pain, allowing you to function more normally.
Remember, none of these are cures for your sinus problems, and they may not completely ensure you avoid a visit to the doctor. They can’t cure an infection (that’s what antibiotics are for), but hopefully these are just a few ways you can get the relief you need on a day-to-day basis.
A microbe found underwater has been determined by researchers as a potential cure for sinusitis. Bacillus licheniformis is an enzyme that comes from seaweed. Initially the researchers were looking for a more efficient way to clean the hull of a ship, but instead found something of medical relevance.
There is a film which can protect the bacteria that cause sinus infections from many of the current nasal sprays, but this microbe may be the solution to that problem. The research showed that the microbe can actually separate the bacteria from the sinus surface, and they were able to repeat this process in over half of the specimens used in the study.
More than one in ten people are affected by sinus problems – in fact, it is one of the most common reasons that lead individuals in the USA and UK to see their general practitioner.
What are some of the symptoms of this condition? – the nose becomes stuffy and may have a discolored discharge, while the temples and the area directly below the eyes become sensitive and perhaps puffy, and headaches are common.
Nasal sprays and antibiotics may provide some relief, but for many individuals sinus problems become chronic and sinusitis recurs frequently – many have even had to undergo surgery to try and counteract the condition. That having been said, there is great potential to help improve quality of life for a large number of people by developing a treatment for sinusitis.
Samples were collected from 20 different individuals for the study – each sample had between two and six different bacteria. In all, there were two dozen strains of bacteria as part of the study. More than half (14) of these strains were separated from the sinus tissue using the potential new marine based treatment. When attacked, the bacteria create a slimy defense layer, but the treatment (dubbed NucB) was able to breakdown the protective layer of more than half the strains responsible for sinusitis.
If you snore, be warned! According to a recent study, people who snore are more likely than smokers, obese individuals, or even those with high LDL levels to have carotid artery problems. When the lining of this artery grows thick, it is actually a precursor to hardened arteries which subsequently result in many vascular complications.
Therefore, it is necessary to recognize snoring as a warning sign, and not just something that aggravates your spouse. No, switching to the couch isn’t going to solve the underlying medical problems that could be brewing – a better solution to your snoring is to seek medical attention. The reverberations caused by snoring actually damage the carotid artery, even if you don’t have a condition like sleep apnea.
This really should not be a surprise – after all, sleep apnea has been connected to heart problems for quite some time. Now this latest study has taken things a step further and shown that snoring itself does damage.
The study consisted of patients of varying ages – none of them had OSA (apnea), so the study focused only on the effects of snoring. Over 50 patients participated in the research. Snorers showed a more significant thickness in the carotid than those who did not snore, while other risk factors like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure did not seem to have any effect on this thickness according to the results.
We spend so much time thinking of snoring as an embarrassing personal problem without any other real side effects that many of us choose to ignore it, hide it, and find ways to cover it up. The fact is that it can be a serious medical condition with future implications for health, and it needs to be taken care of.
Hopefully, this study will remove some of the stigma of snoring by showing that it is a significant health concern, thus motivating more snorers to seek treatment. Research aimed at trying to connect snoring with various potential heart problems continues.
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.