Anyone who has ever lived with chronic sinusitis knows the pain and agony it can bring. Pressure from blockage of the small sinus cavities can trigger severe facial pain, headaches, toothaches, or nasal congestion. The accompanying pain can be so acute and misleading that it can result in unnecessary tooth extractions, loss of sight and loss of smell. Shocking too is the fact over 35-million Americans suffer with chronic sinusitis at an annual cost of $6 billion and 13 million doctor visits.
One simple reason why so many people suffer with chronic sinusitis for so long is the fact that it is often misdiagnosed. The most common treatments for chronic sinusitis include oral antibiotics, topical nasal steroids, decongestants, and saline nasal sprays. While these treatments may produce symptom relief in some cases, without an accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause of the infection, certain treatments, like oral antibiotics and steroids may actually exacerbate the condition.
In one case reported by Eric Chimon DDS, a patient called his office with severe tooth pain. They initially saw their doctor but were told to see a dentist. After listening to a description of the patient’s pain symptoms over the phone, Dr. Chimon didn’t agree that the symptoms were indicative of a dental issue but made arrangements to see the patient. When the patient missed the scheduled appointment Dr. Chimon later learned that the patient was admitted to a hospital ER with acute bacterial sinusitis with associated facial nerve palsy.
Fungal or bacterial?
Two of the most common types of sinus infections are fungal or bacterial in nature. The problem is determining the cause of the infection. Since fungal sinus infections are considered uncommon, most doctors treat chronic sinus infections with antibiotics on the assumption that the cause is bacterial. This shooting from the hip medicine usually provides symptom relief in most instances. However, in some instances the symptoms may return a month or two later and its back to the doctor for another round of antibiotics. What’s wrong with this picture? Clearly the antibiotics are providing temporary symptom relief but it is not curing the problem. The solution to this type of problem is outside the scope and training of most doctors today. Here’s why.
The practice of “modern” medicine here in the U.S. is largely symptom driven. A patient presents with certain symptoms and the doctor treats those symptoms according to medical protocols that harmonize with established billing codes (ICD-10). Very few doctors, if any, will veer away from this industry norm in pursuit of the principle cause of the patient’s symptoms unless it is essential in determining the type of treatment that will be administered. A patient may return to the doctor two, three, four times or more with the same symptoms before they finally go “House” on the problem. In a case like this, you may have to take the lead in finding the source of your sinus problem.
If you have been living with chronic sinusitis, despite regular treatment from your doctor with antibiotics, take a lesson from my own personal saga. For over a year I have been struggling with chronic sinus issues. I have tried saline sprays, netti pot concoctions, apple cider vinegar, snorting cayenne pepper…you name it. While many of these remedies did bring me a measure of relief, the benefits were often short lived. Finally I decided to be a test dummy for a new do-it-yourself air quality test kit being offered by the Green Wellness Initiative of New York (GWINY). The test kit involves the use of a sterile petri dish and liquid growth media for collecting and culturing air samples. I prepared the petri dish as instructed and exposed it to the air in my home office for one hour. After incubating the dish in a warm, dark place for 36 hours the cause for my chronic sinus problem was staring me in the face--high levels of airborne bacteria (see slideshow image).
After coming to terms with the cause of my chronic sinus problem, I decided to test out one of the air sanitizer units from GWINY. The unit they gave me was the FreshAir Surround, the same air sanitizer unit they used in their mold relief efforts out in Gerritsen Beach following Super Storm Sandy. I set up the unit atop my Staples file boxes and turned in for the night. The following morning I was not greeted by the usual swollen sinuses, gritty eyes and dry mouth that I was accustomed to for over a year. Clearly, this is not the type of diagnostic approach that doctors will use to investigate a chronic sinusitis problem.
Test your indoor air
If you have been plagued with chronic sinusitis problems with no solution in sight, you may want to test the air quality in your home or at work with a Healthy Home Survey® kit from the Green Wellness Initiative of New York. The kit, priced at an affordable $19.95 plus tax and shipping, includes a petri dish along with growth media for testing one room or open space. This microbial growth testing media will help you determine whether you are being exposed to potentially hazardous levels of mold and bacteria in the air. To order your Healthy Home Survey® kit or for additional information, click on the following link: http://www.gwiny.org/moldtest.php.