Chronic Fatigue/Sinusitis - May
Feeling worn out and achy and
don't know why?
You could have sinusitis, one of the most common
chronic health problems afflicting Americans.
That's the conclusion of new research
out of Georgetown University that appears in the Archives
of Internal Medicine.
Dr. Alexander Chester, an internist at
Georgetown University Medical Center, surveyed almost
300 of his patients and found that those who reported
unexplained chronic fatigue were nine times more likely
to have sinusitis symptoms than those who felt rested
Also, patients who said they had unexplained
body pain were six times more likely than the pain-free
patients to have such symptoms of sinusitis as facial
pressure, heavy-headedness or frontal headache, Chester
Doctors who specialize in sinusitis -- otolaryngologists
-- know that almost one-third of sufferers experience
severe fatigue and pain, Chester says, but the news
hasn't trickled down to the general practitioner. As
a result, he adds, many patients may not be getting
treatment for sinusitis that could alleviate their fatigue
"It is known that sinusitis can make
a person fatigued, but general medical doctors are less
aware of this because the literature is largely aimed
at the otolaryngologists," Chester says. "But
all doctors should keep in mind that sinusitis might
cause fatigue and pain. It should always be looked for
when a person is exhausted or achy."
Sinuisitis is both an immune support and
infection problem. With a strong immune system you chances
of getting a sinus infection and it related symptoms
is greatly reduced.
For the study, Chester surveyed 297 of
his patients, selecting men and women who were under
the age of 41 -- the mean age was 30. This was done
to minimize the variables of other illnesses that might
appear in an older population.
Sixty-five (22 percent) of the patients
reported unexplained chronic fatigue, described as a
sleepiness unrelieved by rest. And 33 (11 percent) reported
unexplained body pain, which consisted of achiness or
pain in almost all areas of the body. Although there
were more men than women in the study (54 percent versus
46 percent), more women than men reported unexplained
chronic fatigue (60 percent versus 42 percent).
When compared to a control group of people
without unexplained chronic fatigue or body pain, those
with unexplained chronic fatigue were nine times more
likely to have sinusitis symptoms. And those who reported
unexplained body pain were six times more likely to
have sinus symptoms than the control group, the study
"People are unaware of how global the
effects can be from sinusitis," Chester says. "They
can feel a general sense of malaise even without direct
sinus symptoms. My hope is to raise awareness among
internists as to the fact that unexplained chronic fatigue
can be caused by sinusitis."
Fatigue is one of the "top five" symptoms
of sinusitis, says Dr. Philip Perlman, a New York otolaryngologist.
The others are pain, facial pressure, nasal congestion
"To say that everyone with unexplained
chronic fatigue should be worked up for sinusitis is
pushing it a bit," Perlman says. "But a few easy questions
-- like, 'Do you have a history of sinusitis?' or 'Do
you feel facial pressure or have frontal headaches?'
-- could pick out those patients who do have sinusitis."
Sinusitis is one of the most common chronic
health problems in the United States, affecting an estimated
34 million people a year, according to the National
Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
More women are afflicted than men.
It's characterized by inflammation of
the nasal passages that can be caused by any number
of triggers, from a cold to allergies to a fungal infection,
doctors say. The inflammation narrows the nasal passages
so mucus can't drain properly, causing discomfort and
Left untreated, sinusitis can become chronic,
lasting from weeks, to months or even years, according
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