Exercise Induced Sinusitis
Sinusitis is the term used to describe inflammation of the lining of the sinus cavities. The body has air filled cavities throughout the body that are called sinuses but for the most part people refer to the six located in the head when they think about sinus infections or inflammation. Those sinuses are located above the eyes, behind the nose, and behind the cheekbones.
When the sinus cavities are infected by a fungus, bacteria or virus the lining becomes inflamed which leads to congestion, fluid, pressure and pain. Symptoms of a sinus infection also include headaches, fever and imbalance on standing and walking. There are several ways of contracting a sinus infection. In some cases a fungus overgrowth in the body will invade the sinus cavity. At other times a viral cold will migrate into the sinus cavity and cause an infection. In other cases a bacteria will set up growth in the sinus cavity lining where the tissue is warm and moist.
These inflammations result in mucus secretion and fluid buildup. It is the mucus and the fluid buildup that will result in the symptoms. Sometimes these same symptoms are evident when allergens come in contact with the sinus cavity. These allergens, or small proteins, will cause an inflammatory response in the tissue that can last for hours, days or weeks depending upon the allergic response and the continued exposure.
Asthma is another reaction that the body undergoes when it is assaulted with an allergen of some kind or when the bronchioles of the lungs become constricted or inflamed. In some cases people experience an asthmatic reaction when they exercise moderately or intensely. This reaction is called exercise induced asthma.
There have been several studies that show a connection between those people who have sinus infections and those who experience asthma. A study in 2006 found that those who suffer from both tend to have more severe asthma, have more asthma flares and are more likely to have disturbed sleep.
In a study reported in the February 2006 issue of Annals in Allergy and Asthma Immunology researchers found that exercise has been documented to produce asthma reactions, urticaria and anaphylaxis but the study of people who develop rhinitis, or a runny nose, hasn’t been well studied or documented.
Their study found that athletes are more likely than nonathletes to suffer from allergic rhinitis and that endurance athletes will have the highest risk. However, despite this finding less than half the athletes diagnosed didn’t use medication to control their symptoms. In this study rates of exercise induced nasal symptoms were above 60% and rhinorrhea (runny nose) was the most common symptom.
While it seems slightly bizarre that the human body could have an allergic response to exercise it isn’t strange that during moderate to intense exercise the body filters at least twice the amount of air that it would normally in the same amount of time. This increased exposure to particles in the air may put the individual over the threshold of toxins the body is able to successfully filter without risk of inflammation and mucus production.
While a runny nose is a specific response to inflammation of the sinus cavities it doesn’t qualify as an inflammatory response of the sinuses. Without imaging and further testing it is impossible to say if the congestion in the nasal cavity originates just in the nose or travels further up to the sinuses.
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