Keeping Sinuses Clear
It's like having a bad cold that won't go away. Sixteen million Americans suffer from chronic sinusitis. If they don't get treated quickly it can turn into a dangerous infection; but a new blood test is making it easier for people to get on a fast track to feeling better.
Artist Cindy Epps believes the beauty of her paintings is in the details. This past year chronic sinusitis turned her world into a blur.
"My head hurt," she recalled to Ivanhoe. "My face hurt. It's hard to be able to focus on something beautiful and creating and doing something like that when you feel miserable like that."
Sinus inflammation causes severe pressure and pain, but diagnosis is difficult because it can have many causes. Now a new blood test is clearing up the confusion.
"Using a drop of blood, we are able to tell who are the individuals that have chronic sinus problems," Stilianos Kountakis, M.D., an otolaryngologist at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Ga., told Ivanhoe.
The test measures specific proteins in the blood linked to chronic sinusitis. In a study of more than 100 people, the blood test was able to identify those who had the condition even if they had no symptoms.
"It's a more objective test," Dr. Kountakis said. "Also, we can determine the type of sinusitis that the patient has."
The test allows doctors to get patients on the right medications sooner and tailor the treatment to a person's blood profile.
"It's like a fingerprint for that individual patient, and that individual disease," Dr. Kountakis described.
After months of suffering, Epps found the right treatment routine, allowing her creativity to shine through.
"I feel 100 percent better and I feel like I can do the things that I love to do," Epps said.
The National Institutes of Health says in rare cases, untreated sinus infections can lead to a brain infection. There's no cure for chronic sinusitis, just careful monitoring and management with medication.