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Chronic Sinusitis

Do you experience chronic sinusitis? Treatment may be coming your way! Learn more on this Moment of Science.

What I would give if my sinus problems would go away. The headaches, the face aches, the congestion–and sometimes it lasts for months and months on end. Antihistamines and other sinus medications don’t seem to help much.

Scientists suggest that chronic sinusitis is caused by an allergic reaction to fungus. If that is the case, then the current sinus medications on the market aren’t treating the root of the problem. About five years ago, scientists discovered that the majority of patients who had surgery to treat their chronic sinusitis had fungal organisms in their mucus.

Clumped around those fungi, they discovered inflammatory cells, meaning that these people’s immune systems were engaged in battle with the fungi. Common airborne fungi make their way into the mucus lining of the sinuses in most people.

The problem arises when this fungi triggers an immune response, which it does only in people with chronic sinusitis. It’s this immune system response that damages the sinuses in the process of attacking the fungi.

Scientists don’t know yet for certain whether or not fungus is a common cause of chronic sinusitis–fungus could account for as few as five percent of chronic sinusitis cases to as many as eighty percent. Several trials of an anti-fungal treatment have been successful in treating the majority of people tested though.

More such trials will eventually lead to a more precise results. The treatment is still awaiting FDA approval, but if approved, for those whose chronic sinusitis is caused by fungus, anti-fungal therapy will make their lives a lot easier.

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