Sinus problems? There’s more than one reason you could be feeling the pressure! We’re all familiar with the effects a common cold virus can have on our sinuses with congestion and pressure, but you could also be feeling discomfort thanks to seasonal allergies or air pollution.
Inflammation of the sinuses
Our sinuses are several hollow cavities in our skull that are connected to each other. They are found in the cheekbones, forehead, between the eyes and behind the nose. Most of these cavities are connected to the nose where they can drain. It is believed that these structures help humidify the air.
Sinuses are lined with a soft tissue called mucosa and generally contain a small layer of mucus, but when we are hit with a virus, seasonal allergies, air pollution or other irritants, inflammation of the sinuses can be the result.
Many of us are familiar with these frustrating symptoms, and they may be hard to avoid if you look at what can cause them.
Allergies and sinuses
Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, can happen throughout the year. When flowers, trees and grass bloom and release pollen, it is whisked away into the air. When people with these seasonal allergies come in contact with that pollen, their immune systems take action, targeting the pollen particles as dangerous. The immune system releases histamines to help fight the particles, which in turn can cause inflammation of the sinuses along with sneezing and other familiar symptoms.
If you’re affected by seasonal allergies, your practitioner may recommend managing it with certain medications and/or staying indoors on high-pollen days.
Air pollution and sinuses
It’s not just allergies that can cause sinuses to flare up. More research is finding that air pollution may be an underlying cause of chronic sinus inflammation, too. For years, experts have believed that particles in the air could be a trigger for sinus problems, but it has only been recently that this hypothesis has been confirmed.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology compared the effect of filtered air and concentrated Baltimore air on two groups of mice. The findings confirmed an immune or inflammatory response from the cells in the sinuses to the DNA of the mice.
“We’ve identified a lot of evidence that breathing in dirty air directly causes a breakdown in the integrity of the sinus and nasal air passages in mice,” said Murray Ramanathan, M.D., associate professor of otolaryngology – head and neck surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Keeping this barrier intact is essential for protecting the cells in the tissues from irritation or infection from other sources, including pollen or germs.”
What you can do
It’s not just the pressure and congestion of inflamed sinuses that concern ear, nose and throat experts. Many studies have linked chronic sinus problems to other concerns such as depression, lost productivity and chronic fatigue.
If you are suffering from sinus problems, see an ear, nose and throat expert today to get to the bottom of the inflammation and start feeling better!