Sinusitis — The Fungal Connection

Is chronic sinusitis caused by bacteria or mold?  Studies continue to show that mold is now the prime suspect.  The paradigm shift started in 1999 when the Mayo Clinic published a breakthrough study that indicated as many as 96% of sinusitis cases were caused by mold.  The evidence has continued to gain ground with experts and researchers; however, as often happens with new evidence, acceptance of these findings by the medical community has been slow. A sinus expert in New York, W.S. Tichenor M.D. offers a detailed explanation of the controversy and corroborates and explains these findings on his web page.

The fungal connection to sinusitis is also bourne out by my own experience in the field.  Over the years, in the course of residential environmental investigations, I have frequently seen findings of mold overgrowth in a home coupled with the homeowner’s complaints about chronic sinusitis (often among other health complaints).

So if chronic sinusitis is caused by mold in the environment, what can you do to improve your symptoms?  Anyone with chronic sinus problems who wants to address all possible causes should start by removing all sources of potential mold growth from their living space.  The first place to look will be any area in the home that has sustained water damage.  For these water damaged areas, a water damage assessment, inspection and air quality testing for fungal contamination followed by mold remediation may be necessary.  Other sources of mold contamination may include air ducts, carpeting, and any other surface where dust or dirt has been allowed to accumulate.  For this reason, we encourage our clients with health complaints to remove carpeting, hire a professional to clean the air ducts, HEPA vacuum frequently, and use a reputable HEPA air cleaner.

While the Mayo Clinic and others continue to research the mechanisms and treatment of fungal sinusitis, the medical community has not yet embraced these findings universally and effective medications are still under investigation.  However, based on our own anecdotal evidence through years of environmental testing, the fungal connection to chronic sinusitis makes perfect sense.

Brian Bussey is the Senior Industrial Hygienist of Bussey Environmental Inc., an environmental consulting firm located in Evanston, Illinois.  Bussey Environmental has been serving the North Shore and Chicago Metro area since 1998.  A native of the North Shore, Brian has 23 years of experience in the environmental industry.  Bussey Environmental Inc., 1604 Chicago Avenue, Suite 11, Evanston, IL 60201.  Ph:  847.492.1465   Fax:  847.492.1466