According to a 2000
study, 66 million American adults reported having some sinus problems
during the year. The causes for the increases in upper respiratory
problems are under intense debate.
Sinusitis is one of
the most common diseases in the world. It is prevalent in most parts
of the world affecting an estimated 15% of the population as a whole.
Along with asthma, allergies, and other upper respiratory tract
infections, sinusitis has increased dramatically in the last century
due to the degradation in the environment.
Air pollution due to
dust and chemicals is found to be the cause for the alarming increase,
while earlier it was the pollen, moulds and fungus.
Most people get viral
colds and flu, and develop symptoms in the upper respiratory tract
at some point in their lifetime. Over 85% of people with colds have
inflamed sinuses. These inflammations are typically brief and mild,
however, and only between 0.5% and 10% of people with colds really
A study suggests that
nose blowing during a cold may transmit bacteria back into the sinuses
and increase the risk for sinusitis.
Smaller nasal and sinus
passages also make children more vulnerable to upper respiratory
tract infections than older children and adults. True sinusitis
is very rare in children under ten years. Experts believe that sinusitis
is greatly overdiagnosed, particularly in children.
The elderly are at
specific risk because their nasal passages tend to dry out with
age. In addition, the cartilage supporting the nasal passages weakens
causing airflow changes. They also have diminished cough and gag
reflexes and faltering immune systems and are at greater risk for
serious respiratory infections than are young and middle-aged adults.