Acute Sinusitis vs. Chronic Sinusitis with Severe Inflammation or Autoimmune Disease
By Cesar Collado
To begin the year, I’d like to address one of the fundamental flaws with the current medical system when it comes to diagnosing and treating patients with chronic sinusitis. This is not a criticism of physicians by any means! Rather, it is the illustration of some facts that are not always considered by our healthcare system and is meant to empower our readers to seek out proven solutions to get well sooner!
It is a well-known fact that when science advances, medicine follows. Unfortunately, it can take decades for new biological understandings of the human body and pathogens to 1) be studied, 2) be published, 3) attain medical research funding, 4) become subject to clinical trials where applicable, 5) find solutions, 6) meet regulatory requirements, and 7) reach mainstream medical practice. In the meantime, many chronic sinusitis patients suffer from autoimmune responses (inflammation), pituitary damage causing extreme fatigue, and cognitive effects such as headaches, brain fog, memory issues, and others. In August of 2017, the Center for Disease Control, CDC, had its first annual fungal disease awareness week. The caption on the video reads “’Think fungus’ if you have symptoms that don’t get better with treatment. Talk to your doctor about the possibility of a fungal infection.” This was an extraordinary step by the public health sector in acknowledging fungal source of iillness!
New Medicine From Scientific Discovery to Regular Usage By Community Doctors Can Take Decades
This lag in time between scientific discovery, validation, and clinical study can be exemplified by the decades of “revolutionary” treatments for ulcers that solely addressed symptoms by only managing acid in the stomach. H2 antagonists and proton pump inhibitors were consistently the biggest selling pharmaceuticals for over a decade resulting in billions of annual revenues across the pharmaceutical industry. Simultaneously, in 1982, research from two Australian scientists was attempting to isolate a bacterium in the diseased gut lining. Their discovery identified a bacterium found in approximately 50% of the population’s normal gut flora, Helicobacter Pylori. That discovery was made in 1984. At the time, the scientific community dismissed the research and did not contemplate that bacteria could cause ulcers, because it had been assumed that bacteria could not survive the acidity in the stomach. The experiment was published in 1985. The first antibiotic treatment for ulcers caused by h-pylori in combination with other medications occurred over a decade later in 1996. It has been over 2 decades since, and ulcers are still primarily treated symptomatically (acid blockers, proton pump inhibitors, etc.) until diagnostic testing to confirm h-pylori is done. Ulcers, today, can now be cured versus being treated symptomatically for life.
In 2005, The Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Drs. Warren and Marshall for their discovery of h-pylori bacteria and its causal relationship to stomach ulcers. A similar example can be found in looking at the discovery of hepatitis C which occurred in 1989. The first medication to cure hepatitis disease was made available 2 decades later in 2011. Because of exorbitant pricing, insurance (or lack of), and reimbursement issues, only a fraction of 3.7 million hepatitis C patients have been treated or cured of the disease.
Acute and Chronic Sinusitis and inflammation
Chronic sinusitis is a painful and often debilitating disease suffered by up to 60 M patients in the US alone. Patients experience facial pain, congestion, and thick, discolored mucous. This can last for up to 4 weeks. Conventional medical treatment includes medications for allergies, decongestants, and antibiotics to address infection. The cause can be bacterial, viral, or fungal; however, antibiotics will only impact bacteria and often create a hospitable environment for mold or fungus to thrive and reproduce relying on mucous for nourishment. Nasal steroids are often prescribed for inflammation in addition to antihistamines for allergens. There are several studies that suggest few chronic sinusitis cases are caused by bacteria alone, but, nevertheless, antibiotics are still widely overused.
Chronic Sinusitis patients sometimes experience sinusitis symptoms for up to 12 weeks, despite treatment attempts. Treatment remains the same as for acute sinusitis, although specific medicines such as antihistamines or antibiotics may be tried when the infection reoccurs or doesn’t respond. In 1999, the Mayo clinic published a study demonstrating that 96% of chronic sinusitis patients studied tested positive for fungal infection.1. The medical community dismissed this study, similar to the ulcer study. To date, fungal sinusitis can play a significant role in what is called “The Chronic Sinusitis Sufferer’s Lifecycle.” This is because fungi and bacteria have an interdependent relationship competing with each other to survive. For example, when antibiotics are used, they also kill the bacteria that keeps the fungi from growing out of control. This contributes to a chronic cycle where the patient goes from bacterial sinusitis to getting better to only acquire another infection that is fungal in origin.
What is important to understand is the fact that mold can also trigger the inflammatory immune response in other systems of the body as well. When mold enters the sinuses, chemical mediators other than histamine are released and cause swelling and mucous production. Once mold colonizes the sinus, the diet of a person affected by fungal sinusitis then influences how much fungal overgrowth will occur throughout the body. If Candida overgrowth occurs, it can impact the gut, brain, or lead to a severe candida infection, Candidiasis. When this happens, patients experience superficial fungal infections as well, such as toenail fungus, thrush (tongue), or vaginal yeast Infections. There is also a candida receptor in the brain that, when triggered, can cause tissue damage, an inflammatory response in the brain, and damage to the pituitary and thyroid. These inflammatory and hormonal responses can destroy the quality of life for any person suffering for periods of years and even decades if not diagnosed.
Why Isn’t the Health Care System Treating Sinusitis Correctly?
Autoimmune disease is complex and involves the immune system attacking the body, even when the immediate threat has been removed. Thus, when mold is present and is causing chronic sinusitis, there are several circumstances that can impact a physician’s ability to fully treat it:
- General practitioners, who normally do not treat complex autoimmune diseases, do not know to look for environmental triggers;
- Specialists such as neurologists, ENTs, and Rheumatologists
mostly restrict their practice to their specialty for both practical and legal reasons;
- Since there are over 10,000 diseases with only 200 symptoms, mathematically, any accurate diagnosis for any disease may be improbable to identify very quickly for any physician;
- The Healthcare system cannot afford to use diagnostics for every possible disease;
- Autoimmune diseases are a recent historical development. Thus, they have only been extensively studied in rheumatology, gastroenterology, and dermatology. As a result, there are several expensive biologic medicines for diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, and psoriasis, but there are a few companies conducting early clinical trials in sinusitis and respiratory diseases.
3 Obvious Reasons Our Healthcare System and Physicians are “Hand-Cuffed:”
- Chronic sinusitis is not yet classified as an autoimmune disease. Therefore, most physicians are not looking for the inflammatory cause of the symptoms, such as a patient’s medical history, or through taking blood or environmental diagnostics. Thus, a differential diagnosis process will unlikely lead to any discussion of mold during a sinusitis discussion. The absence of this discussion makes providing medical help very limited.
- Patients almost always focus on the acute symptoms of the illness being treated. This cognitive bias leads to the collective oversight of symptoms addressing the holistic wellness of a person.
- Most physicians only have, on average, 13 minutes per patient. This is obviously not enough time to interview the patient about their complete medical history or environment.
5 Reasons Where Conventional Medicine “Gets it Wrong” When Dealing with Inflammation:
- The assumption that it’s all in the genes.Most physicians believe most diseases (other than infections) are primarily due to hereditary.The reality is that everyone’s health is only 25% influenced by their genes and 75% from their environment. This includes air, water, diet, activity, allergies, and toxins. All of these variables are difficult to treat, because they are impacted by the patient’s choices, decisions, and behaviors.
- The assumption that the Immune System only influences one organ at a time. The immune system involves the entire body. Unfortunately, when a patient is presented with symptoms, they will seek or be referred to a specialist for just the most apparent symptoms. For example, those with gut issues see a Gastrointestinal specialist, those with Cognitive issues and headaches see Neurologists, Sinusitis patients see an ENT, those with Hormonal issues see endocrinologists. Only seeing a specialist limits the scope of treatment. Therefore, a holistic approach is unlikely to be used to address the causes of autoimmune disease symptoms.
- The assumption that diet does not impact inflammation and Autoimmune Disease. Approximately 80% of our immune system is in our gut. As a result of today’s modern diet, inflammatory diseases exist where they did not exist in the past when people actually prepared and cooked fresh foods. Several items we eat directly impact inflammation in the body: industrial seed oils, sugar (high fructose corn syrup), soy, and cereal grains (finely processed, gluten). This does not include toxins we ingest in addition to our diets. It is almost impossible for me to believe that any patients can see a physician for inflammation without having any discussion on diet.
- The assumption that medications are required to get well. Autoimmune disease and inflammation are most often treated with pharmaceutical intervention. There are treatment protocols where most physicians begin with first-line medicines which may be less efficacious with side effects, but are affordable. Upon failure of a first-line medications, a series of other medications may be tried requiring additional visits. Ultimately, expensive biologicals may be used because they are efficacious (but extremely expensive). However, these products suppress the immune system, instead of supporting it.
- The assumption that symptoms will only get worse and are irreversible. This statement is far from true. Proper diet, exercise, and other natural treatment modalities can have a profound impact on inflammation. As inflammation decreases, symptoms can be eliminated or even reversed.
While medicine takes time to evolve to reach the masses, there are several actions patients can take to overcome these obstacles in the healthcare system. We have discussed diet. Where Microbalance Health Products fit into the process is by addressing what may be the environmental cause (mold) of sinusitis or the additional symptoms. Addressing the mold in your sinuses, home, and clothes allows you to take a significant risk factor off the table.
- Ponikau JU1, et. al. The Diagnosis and Incidence of Allergic Fungal Sinusitis. Mayo Clin Proc. 1999 Sep;74(9):877-84.