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Prone to Sinusitis? Air Pollution in Your City is Making It Worse

1 in 8 Indians grapple with sinusitis and the pollution in the country does little to help them.

Updated
Fit
4 min read
Prone to Sinusitis? Air Pollution in Your City is Making It Worse
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India is greatly afflicted by sinusitis, a condition that involves inflaming of sinuses (the air cavities in the nasal passage) in your nose. About 134 million Indians suffer from chronic sinusitis, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The disease affects one in every eight Indians.

While several Indians struggle with a congested nasal and throat lining, doctors believe that metropolitan cities like Delhi and Mumbai are more likely to see higher instances of sinusitis, owing to their pollution levels.

Some common symptoms of sinusitis involve prolonged cold, congested nose, headaches and fever. Here’s a closer breakdown of the medical problem.

Prone to Sinusitis? Air Pollution in Your City is Making It Worse

  1. 1. What is Sinusitis?

    Were you ever at a receiving end of a cold that left you with a massive headache, perhaps one that even made blinking painful, as you struggled to breathe? This is what acute sinusitis feels like for many who grapple with the condition.

    The condition is caused by anything that blocks the sinus openings in the nasal passage
    The condition is caused by anything that blocks the sinus openings in the nasal passage
    (Photo: iStockphoto)

    Dr Sanjay Sachdeva, Director, ENT - Head & Neck Surgery and Cochlear Implant, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, defines sinusitis in the following manner.

    Sinusitis is the infection in the air filled cavities around the eyes which are called sinuses. Sinuses help the nose to perform function of filtration, humidification and temperature regulation. They communicate with the nose through small openings known as ostia. Disease of these openings cause sinuses to get blocked, infected and lead to sinusitis.
    Dr Sanjay Sachdeva

    Effectively, the condition is caused by anything that blocks the sinus openings in the nasal passage. Pollution, a common cold, nasal products like sprays and drops, allergies, smoking - potentially any of these could trigger sinusitis. In cities where pollution is a regular problem, it could also become chronic.

    Too caught up to read? Listen to the story here:

    Though sinus does not kill, it causes great pain and discomfort and is as widespread in the country as diabetes or cardiovascular problems, points out a report by The Times of India.

    Expand
  2. 2. Types of Sinusitis

    The duration of sinusitis is one of the markers of its type. Though there is no formal consensus on these markers, a general understanding defines them in the following manner.

    If you’r prone to getting several attacks all throughout the year, your condition is a recurrent one and it is best to consult a doctor.
    If you’r prone to getting several attacks all throughout the year, your condition is a recurrent one and it is best to consult a doctor.
    (Photo: iStockphoto)

    Depending on how long it persists for, there are four kinds of the condition:

    • Lasting up to 4 weeks: acute sinusitis
    • Lasting between 4-12 weeks or close to three months: subacute sinusitis
    • Lasting over 12 weeks or three months, can last for years: chronic sinusitis

    If you’r prone to getting several attacks all throughout the year, your condition is a recurrent one.

    There is yet another classification of sinusitis which is based on the kind of inflammation. Sinusitis is either infected or non-infectious. While the former is caused by a viral infection, the latter is caused by irritants or allergens.

    Expand
  3. 3. Sinusitis and Pollution

    People who live in more polluted cities of the country have a higher susceptibility to developing non-infectious sinusitis.

    Dr Sachdeva comments on this and says:

    Pollution level has direct bearing with infections in the sinuses. Pollution blocks up the nose, and blocks up the small openings of sinuses , ie ostia. Blocked sinuses start collecting  secretions which start harbouring various organisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi etc. This leads to inflammation of sinuses.
    Breathing dirty air weakens sino-nasal air passages in mice which further results in inflammation of the nasal cavities.
    Breathing dirty air weakens sino-nasal air passages in mice which further results in inflammation of the nasal cavities.
    (Photo: iStockphoto)

    A study carried out by the journal American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, concluded that breathing dirty air weakens sino-nasal air passages in mice which further results in inflammation of the nasal cavities.

    In a report filed by the John Hopkins university, Dr Murray Ramanathan, MD and associate professor of otolaryngology (head and neck surgery), says:

    In the US, regulations have kept a lot of air pollution in check, but in places like New Delhi, Cairo or Beijing, where people heat their houses with wood-burning stoves, and factories release pollutants into the air, our study suggests people are at higher risk of developing chronic sinus problems.

    Commenting on the breakdown of the passages, Dr Ramanathan adds that it further leaves the cells vulnerable to irritation or infection from external agents like pollen or germs.

    Expand
  4. 4. Before You See the Doctor

    With sinusitis, early treatment is the key, points out Dr Sachdeva.

    Consume hot beverages and soups.
    Consume hot beverages and soups.
    (Photo: iStockphoto)
    Treatment of sinusitis should start early, meaning the diagnosis needs to be early as well. Any symptoms of sinusitis needs prompt action. The common symptoms are headache, nasal blockages, nasal discharge or something trickling down the throat. Treatment involves medication, but if sinusitis gets chronic then surgery may be required.

    Here are some simple DIYs to try it home if you have mild congestion.

    • Inhale steam
    • Avoid smoking and drinking as much as possible
    • Consume hot beverages and soups
    • Try deep breathing exercises everyday to allow easy passage of air
    • Avoid air conditioners, especially after a head bath

    However, for anything that causes too much discomfort, consult a doctor right away.

    (Subscribe to FIT on Telegram)

    Expand

What is Sinusitis?

Were you ever at a receiving end of a cold that left you with a massive headache, perhaps one that even made blinking painful, as you struggled to breathe? This is what acute sinusitis feels like for many who grapple with the condition.

The condition is caused by anything that blocks the sinus openings in the nasal passage
The condition is caused by anything that blocks the sinus openings in the nasal passage
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Dr Sanjay Sachdeva, Director, ENT - Head & Neck Surgery and Cochlear Implant, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, defines sinusitis in the following manner.

Sinusitis is the infection in the air filled cavities around the eyes which are called sinuses. Sinuses help the nose to perform function of filtration, humidification and temperature regulation. They communicate with the nose through small openings known as ostia. Disease of these openings cause sinuses to get blocked, infected and lead to sinusitis.
Dr Sanjay Sachdeva

Effectively, the condition is caused by anything that blocks the sinus openings in the nasal passage. Pollution, a common cold, nasal products like sprays and drops, allergies, smoking - potentially any of these could trigger sinusitis. In cities where pollution is a regular problem, it could also become chronic.

Too caught up to read? Listen to the story here:

Though sinus does not kill, it causes great pain and discomfort and is as widespread in the country as diabetes or cardiovascular problems, points out a report by The Times of India.

ADVERTISEMENT

Types of Sinusitis

The duration of sinusitis is one of the markers of its type. Though there is no formal consensus on these markers, a general understanding defines them in the following manner.

If you’r prone to getting several attacks all throughout the year, your condition is a recurrent one and it is best to consult a doctor.
If you’r prone to getting several attacks all throughout the year, your condition is a recurrent one and it is best to consult a doctor.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Depending on how long it persists for, there are four kinds of the condition:

  • Lasting up to 4 weeks: acute sinusitis
  • Lasting between 4-12 weeks or close to three months: subacute sinusitis
  • Lasting over 12 weeks or three months, can last for years: chronic sinusitis

If you’r prone to getting several attacks all throughout the year, your condition is a recurrent one.

There is yet another classification of sinusitis which is based on the kind of inflammation. Sinusitis is either infected or non-infectious. While the former is caused by a viral infection, the latter is caused by irritants or allergens.

Sinusitis and Pollution

People who live in more polluted cities of the country have a higher susceptibility to developing non-infectious sinusitis.

Dr Sachdeva comments on this and says:

Pollution level has direct bearing with infections in the sinuses. Pollution blocks up the nose, and blocks up the small openings of sinuses , ie ostia. Blocked sinuses start collecting  secretions which start harbouring various organisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi etc. This leads to inflammation of sinuses.
Breathing dirty air weakens sino-nasal air passages in mice which further results in inflammation of the nasal cavities.
Breathing dirty air weakens sino-nasal air passages in mice which further results in inflammation of the nasal cavities.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

A study carried out by the journal American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, concluded that breathing dirty air weakens sino-nasal air passages in mice which further results in inflammation of the nasal cavities.

In a report filed by the John Hopkins university, Dr Murray Ramanathan, MD and associate professor of otolaryngology (head and neck surgery), says:

In the US, regulations have kept a lot of air pollution in check, but in places like New Delhi, Cairo or Beijing, where people heat their houses with wood-burning stoves, and factories release pollutants into the air, our study suggests people are at higher risk of developing chronic sinus problems.

Commenting on the breakdown of the passages, Dr Ramanathan adds that it further leaves the cells vulnerable to irritation or infection from external agents like pollen or germs.

ADVERTISEMENT

Before You See the Doctor

With sinusitis, early treatment is the key, points out Dr Sachdeva.

Consume hot beverages and soups.
Consume hot beverages and soups.
(Photo: iStockphoto)
Treatment of sinusitis should start early, meaning the diagnosis needs to be early as well. Any symptoms of sinusitis needs prompt action. The common symptoms are headache, nasal blockages, nasal discharge or something trickling down the throat. Treatment involves medication, but if sinusitis gets chronic then surgery may be required.

Here are some simple DIYs to try it home if you have mild congestion.

  • Inhale steam
  • Avoid smoking and drinking as much as possible
  • Consume hot beverages and soups
  • Try deep breathing exercises everyday to allow easy passage of air
  • Avoid air conditioners, especially after a head bath

However, for anything that causes too much discomfort, consult a doctor right away.

(Subscribe to FIT on Telegram)

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