Allergic Fungal Sinusitis Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Allergic Fungal Sinusitis

Allergic fungal sinusitis is essentially a negative reaction to fungus that is present in the air and is most common in people with allergies. While sharing a name with the common nasal malady, fungal sinusitis is markedly different both in terms of symptoms, causes and treatment. As such, antibiotics for sinusitis and other medicinal treatments like antifungals are not used, and common symptoms of a sinus infection are not always present. In fact, the condition was previously very often misdiagnosed as a tumor of the sinus region, as noted by Medscape.

Allergic Fungal Sinusitis Causes

The most common cause of allergic fungal sinusitis is an allergy to airborne fungus. When this is combined with other risk factors, it can create the perfect storm of inventing a perfect living, eating and thriving environment for microscopic fungus that find the dark and moist living conditions of the sinuses all too inviting. Medscape also notes that over half of all people who end up with this variant of fungal sinusitis also have asthma; however whether or not that is considered a cause or merely a risk factor is debatable.

Allergic Fungal Sinusitis Symptoms

Fungal sinusitis symptoms are not necessarily the same as those that are common with sinusitis that is caused by a virus or bacteria. While common similarities like a sinus headache can be present anytime that inflammation of the sinuses is present, there are some symptoms that are only present in cases where fungus is the source. Facial swelling, which Medscape points out can be very gradual (so much so that it is not even always noticeable) can occur. But, this swelling of the facial regions can also be rapid and severe and can even become so problematic that vision abilities are impacted. Other symptoms associated with allergic fungal sinusitis include nasal congestion, post nasal drip and nasal obstruction (which can be a result of swelling). And, these symptoms can also be gradual in nature, slowly progressing along as the condition becomes more severe. The telltale identifying symptom of allergic fungal sinusitis, which may not be noticeable until the condition has progressed further, is the formation of crusts in the nasal area that are consistent with fungal mucus.

Allergic Fungal Sinusitis Treatment

Unfortunately, sinusitis treatment when from a fungal source is very different from well known sinus infection remedies. Antibiotics are of no use, and antifungals are nowhere near substantial enough to counteract the immense amount of growing, eating fungus that can reside within the nasal cavity. In fact, Medscape points out that even common over the counter remedies like decongestants are often incredibly ineffective and are unable to relieve any of the sinus pressure and discomfort that can result from allergic fungal sinusitis. The recommended course of treatment for the condition is always surgery, whereby the offending fungus is removed. This procedure is known as debridement. Once this is complete, then normally immunotherapy treatment follows. Unfortunately, chronic sinusitis treatment can be difficult with fungal forms of the condition which can and does recur as numerous surgeries can result in persistent cases.

Early identification is difficult with allergic fungal sinusitis because the condition is so slow to progress. Essentially, there can be a rather large infection long underway before the symptoms become obvious or bothersome enough to warrant medical attention. And, depending on how obvious or non obvious symptoms are, it can be possible that the condition goes undiagnosed or mistreated for quite some time. However, the sooner that the condition is identified, the sooner that necessary treatment can begin, as well as the precautions taken to try to prevent future recurrences.

While early detection is critical yet not always achievable, symptom identification and medical intervention are incredibly important for allergic fungal sinusitis cases. When left untreated, as explained by Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, the sense of smell can be altered and vision can be severely affected resulting in potential total loss of vision and even eyeball displacement.