Part of the show Spinal Injuries, and Brain Repair
Do you wake up in the morning all bunged up? Are you one of nature's snotty people? Always sniffling, looking for a tissue? I certainly am, and if you are too, you could be suffering from chronic sinus inflammation. Nearly 30 million people a year are diagnosed with chronic sinusitis in the USA, and the disease costs over 5 billion dollars a year in total, but no-one really knows what causes the illness, or how it can be cured or prevented. At last scientists may have tracked down the cause - and the bad news is that it's everywhere. Scientists in America took blood and snot samples from both healthy people and those with sinusitis. And they found that people with sniffles had very dramatic immune reactions to certain fungus proteins, compared to the non-snifflers. These fungi aren't like mushrooms you see in the shops, they are everywhere: their microscopic spores are found all over the place, borne on the air, and you may commonly see them growing as moulds in damp corners or window frames. So it looks like although we are all exposed to the same levels of fungal spores, the unfortunate snivellers amongst us my react more severely to them, causing sinusitis. The American team are currently testing anti-fungal drugs in people with chronic sinusitis, but for me it could be a message to clean my window frames and scrub the damp patch in the bathroom.