The Surprising Effects of Chronic Sinus Inflammation on Brain Activity

The Surprising Effects of Chronic Sinus Inflammation on Brain Activity

Sinus Problems and Headaches

New studies published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery publication have recently reported a correlation between sinusitis (sinus infections) and adverse cognitive functions. The latest research indicated that sinus infections affect neural networks involved with the response to stimuli, cognition, and introspection. It turns out there is a connection between chronic sinus problems and headaches, migraines, depression, lack of focus, and other neurological events that indicate that the brain is being affected much more than was previously believed. Previous studies have shown that patients often seek medical assistance due to the negative cognitive symptoms affecting their everyday lives. We are finally beginning to understand what has been observed for years.

Sinus Problems and Headaches: The Effects of Sinus Inflammation on Brain Activity

According to the CDC, chronic rhinosinusitis affects almost 12% of the adult population in the United States. After years of constant and repeated cycles of swelling and remedy can cause a thickening of the sinus tissue after being repaired over and over. While surgery may remediate the issue in the short term, the underlying problems can cause a later recurrence.

Researchers found a cohort inside the Human Connectome Project. This open-accessed dataset comprises radiology scan images and behavioral and cognitive measurements for over 1200 adults aged 22 to 35. The authors found a group of patients with severe to moderate chronic sinusitis. MRI scans showed common problems with neuronal activity and cerebral blood flow.

The most common features in the cohort included:

•Decreased activity and connectivity in the area for executive function, called the frontoparietal network, this area involves problem-solving and attention span.
•Decreased activity and connectivity in the salience network, which helps maintain detection and response to external stimuli and communication.
•The data also showed increased activity and connectivity in the default-mode network that is usually most active during events like daydreaming and mind-wandering.

While the subjects did not register these issues on cognitive or behavioral tests did not show clinically significant expressions of cognitive impairment. The scans, however, showed a different story. There was a definite association between the subtle changes in brain functioning and sinus inflammation. The severity of negative brain functioning was equal to the extent of inflammation of the sinuses. Researchers speculate that these changes could cause more impactful symptoms if the underlying chronic sinus inflammation goes left untreated.

The best news is that this finding could be the first step in finding early signs of cognitive decline connected to chronic sinus inflammation. The next phase is to use this data as a launch pad for more research and new treatments for chronic sinus issues related to brain health. This process takes time as patients must be examined closely before and after treatment and for intervals for a long time afterward.

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