Throughout the year, and especially during allergy season, people across the country suffer with their allergies and sinuses. Also called a sinus infection, sinusitis can be triggered by an allergy or the common cold. One with sinusitis usually presents with swollen and/or inflamed nasal passages, headaches, facial pain, and other like symptoms.In some severe cases, patients can experience sinusitis over a period of eight to twelve weeks throughout the year, classifying them as having “chronic sinusitis.” In fact, according to the CDC, around 11% of the US population suffer with chronic sinusitis. With such a prevalence, more research is being done to find connections to this disease with other ailments. For example, some chronic sinusitis sufferers have described a mysterious “brain fog” as a symptom of their disease. With this being a debilitating, yet also seemingly unrelated symptom, patients across the country are asking, “Can treating my chronic sinusitis clear my brain fog?” Let’s dive into what the medical research is saying on the subject:
What is Chronic Sinusitis?
Sinusitis is an inflammation or swelling of the tissues within the nasal passages due to infection. What is usually filled with air and free-flowing mucus, the nasal cavities when blocked can quickly block the airway and breed infection. Specifically, chronic sinusitis is reserved for those patients experiencing this ailment for 8 weeks or more throughout the year. The causes of this disease can include the following:
- Nasal polyps
- Respiratory tract infections
- A deviated septum
- Other immunocompromised conditions
Symptoms and How “Brain Fog” is Related
Chronic sinusitis and acute sinusitis may have similar signs and symptoms, but the length of time in which a patient has sinusitis is the key factor to distinguish between the two. Chronic sinusitis sufferers may experience most or some of the following symptoms:
- Nasal inflammation and/or congestion
- Thick, discolored discharge from the nose
- Drainage down the back of the throat or “postnasal drainage”
- Brain fog
- Pain, tenderness and swelling around the facial area
- Reduced sense of smell and taste
- Ear and upper jaw pain
- Sore throat
Brain fog is one of the most common symptoms of chronic sinusitis. Described by patients as a “fuzziness” or inability to focus or remember things clearly. This symptom usually subsides within a few days, but for those with longer-lasting effects, this can quickly become debilitating upon your everyday life.
In order to treat the symptoms, including brain fog, the doctors must treat the underlying cause, which is usually the swelling and inflammation of the nasal passages. When treating chronic sinusitis, there are two main ways to tackle it:
If this can be done medically, this is usually the go-to option for most patients and treatment professionals alike. With medications such as Flonase and other topical nasal steroids, the inflammation can be decreased. With the addition of a nasal flushing device, the mucus is able to escape from the once swollen passages and resume its normal and healthy production.
If the doctors and patient believes that surgery is the best way to treat their chronic sinusitis, this is likely due to a physical abnormality within the nasal area or an ailment resistant to prior treatment methods. If this is the case, the doctor will perform surgery on the patient to widen the nasal passages so that treatment can be more effective. This can be done with a balloon or other surgical options.
If you or someone you love is suffering with brain fog or any other lingering symptoms from chronic sinusitis, reach out to the the sinus doctor nearest you or contact Camellia ENT for the best care and treatments available in the Lafayette area!