The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA. receives 32 million reports of chronic sinus infection annually. What percentage of these chronic sinus infections could be caused by mold in homes or workplaces? The case study most often cited to answer that question was conducted at the Mayo Clinic in 1998 and the report was published and presented in 1999. The Article was entitled “The Diagnosis and Incidence of Allergic Fungal Sinusitis”.
What Constitutes Mold?
Fungi are a large group of plant-like organisms lacking chlorophyll. These include molds. Because it does not contain chlorophyll, a fungus cannot make food by absorbing sun as typical green plants do. Fungus or mold absorbs food and water from dead (Saprophytic fungus) or live (parasitic fungus) matter. Because mold or fungus does not need light to survive, it can live in dark damp places. Your sinuses are a perfect example of this type of environment. The reproductive portion of these organisms is called spores. Spores become airborne so you can breathe them in much like pollen.
Can Sinusitis Be Related To Fungus Or Mold?
If calcification is seen in your right maxillary sinus it is considered fungal sinusitis. Nasal polyps can form as a result of fungal irritation. The fungus in your maxillary nasal passage is clumpy, thick and dark. Fungal sinusitis may be non-invasive (no tissue invasion) or it can be invasive, that is including tissue invasion. This is usually the case if you are an immuno-compromised host.
How Does Mold Create Chronic Sinus Infections Or Sinusitis?
Research has shown that if you are sensitive to these molds, your body’s immune system sends a type of white blood cells called eosinophils to attack the fungi. The eosinophils irritate the membranes of your nasal passages and as long as fungi remain, so will the irritation. Your reaction is not an allergic reaction, but an immune reaction.
Before the Mayo study, it was believed that fungus allergy was less than ten percent of instances of chronic rhino sinusitis. The report indicated that fungus is likely the cause of nearly all of these cases.
“Allergy to mold – animal dander – dust: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2011. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000814.htm.
“What Is Sinusitis? .” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Home Page . N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2011. http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/sinusitis/Pages/sinusitis.aspx.