As the warm spring air draws us outside, we may find an unpleasant companion dwelling alongside the bright sunshine and buzzing bees – pollution. Almost every major metropolitan area in the United States is affected by air pollution. This is not just bad news for the ozone; it has a significant effect on people’s sinuses. It is estimated that 300,000 people will die in China this year from pollution-related illnesses, including complications from sinus problems. Chronic exposure to polluted air can result in decreased function of the cilia (the small hair-like structures in the nose). This means that these cells cannot do their job to sweep out mucus and particles that we breathe in. As a result, the bad stuff stays around longer, making it more likely to gain access to your system and cause sinusitis.
Pollution doesn’t just come from the outside air, either. There are a number of pollution culprits much closer to home:
- Dust – Dust contains dust mites, which are a common culprit in causing sinusitis. It is important to keep your house as clear of dust as possible. Clean your carpets often, and wipe down any surfaces.
- Mold – Mold problems are always associated with water problems. Any area in your home that is warm and damp provides a great place for bacteria to grow and multiply (window frames, refrigerator drip pans). Inspect your home regularly, and treat any areas susceptible to mold with a mild bleach solution.
- Furry pets – Cats or dogs, (even cockroaches!) may also cause an allergic response and inflammation of the mucus membrane linings. This does not mean that you should find a new home for a much beloved pet, as long as your loved one visits a doggie grooming parlor regularly and if he/she has long hair, gets a trim.
Aside from good cleaning habits, humidity is a great way to prevent sinusitis. Try to keep your home, where you spend most of your time, at the perfect humidity. Use a humidifier at home, especially when running the air conditioner or heater (both of which dry the air significantly). When you go out, take saline spray, which can provide the appropriate amount of moisture in dry locations. Try to keep your sinuses moistened and not too dry. Of course, the tried and true way to treat sinusitis is to visit your doctor. Give our office a call for more information on making your home a healthy place for your sinuses.