If you feel as though you're almost always dealing with sinus problems—such as a running nose, red and itchy eyes, or constant congestion—you may be tired of cycling through various over-the-counter products in an effort to find relief. Allergy testing may rule out some potential culprits but can often leave you feeling no closer to finding an answer than before. However, in many cases, your symptoms may stem from microscopic fungus spores or even a fungal infection in your sinuses. Read on to learn more about the potential culprits behind your runny nose, congestion, and other unpleasant respiratory symptoms as well as what you can do to seek freedom from your sinus issues for good.
What are some common causes of chronic sinus symptoms?
Often, something you assume is seasonal allergies or a mild cold can actually be a fungal infection or sensitivity known as fungal sinusitis. There are several sub-categories of this sinusitis, from an allergy and ultra-sensitivity to fungi spores that often naturally occur in the outdoor air to a fungal infection of the nasal or sinus cavity itself.
Mycetoma sinusitis is relatively uncommon but results from the formation of a spore ball inside the sinus cavity. In severe cases, this ball can interfere with breathing or even an individual's sense of smell or taste. Treatment for this condition generally consists of an outpatient procedure to scrape away the fungal ball and any remaining spores from the inside of the nasal passage.
Allergic fungal sinusitis is much more common than other types of sinuses and most closely resembles other types of allergies. Instead of suffering from sneezing and congestion each time you're around freshly mown grass, pollen, or animal dander, you'll deal with an allergic reaction whenever you encounter environmental fungus, from the shelf fungi often present in tree bark to a mildewed shower curtain.
Chronic indolent sinusitis is uncommon in the U.S. but much more prevalent in other parts of the world, particularly parts with warm, dry climates (like Africa and the Middle East), and has a lengthy onset period of months or even years.
Fulminant sinusitis is also relatively uncommon among those with healthy immune systems but can be common among the immunocompromised—for example, those undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatments or those battling HIV or AIDS.
If you've been tested for other allergies and come up empty or have undergone multiple rounds of antibiotics and antiviral medications to rid yourself of chronic sinus infections to no avail, you may be dealing with allergic fungal sinusitis.
What are your most effective fungal sinusitis treatment options?
Once you've been formally diagnosed with this condition, there are a few simple treatment options that can provide you with relief.
Allergic fungal sinusitis manifests itself when your body's immune response is overloaded—which most often occurs because of a heavy buildup of fungus spores in the mucus coating your sinuses and nasal cavities. Once these spores are removed, your immune system will stop mounting a constant attack against other fungus spores, allowing your sinuses and respiratory system to recover. You'll generally need to visit an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist to examine your sinuses and determine whether this is the best treatment path.
Until your ENT visit, you can often obtain relief with a soothing nasal spray, such as one from Dymista. Such a spray can coat the inside of your nasal cavity with cool moisture and temporarily keep any allergic reactions at bay. You'll also want to boost your immune system (and its ability to fight intruders other than fungus spores) by ensuring you get plenty of sleep, plenty of water, and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
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