Nuisance or Health Threat?
For most people, hay fever is a seasonal nuisance - something to endure for a few weeks once or twice a year. But for others, such allergies can be life-altering conditions that lead to more serious complications, including sinusitis and asthma.
- Sinusitis is the inflammation or infection of the paranasal sinuses, which are four pairs of cavities located within the skull. Congestion here can lead to pressure and pain over the eyes, around the nose or in the cheeks just above the teeth. Chronic sinusitis is associated with persistent inflammation and is often difficult to treat. Extended bout of hay fever, for instance, can increase the likelihood of development of chronic sinusitis.
- Asthma is a disease of the lungs in which the primary symptom is a narrowing or blockage of the airways, resulting in wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing and other breathing difficulties. Asthma attacks can be triggered by viral infection, cold air, exercise, anxiety, allergens and other factors. Allergic asthma is responsible for almost 80 percent of all asthma diagnoses. It presents the same symptoms as nonallergic asthma, but differs in that it is set off primarily by an immune response to specific allergens.
Both sinusitis and allergic asthma are manageable, but the research challenge is to go beyond controlling the symptoms to address the root causes of disease.
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