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Chronic Sinusitis Sufferers Turning to Alternative Treatments

A research study suggests that millions of Americans with chronic sinusitis are using both traditional and alternative treatments to alleviate the disease's painful symptoms. The study, "Patients Treated for Chronic Sinusitis - Five Year Follow-Up," recommends that specialists and primary care physicians treating this disease should query their patients regarding any self-initiated remedies during any physical examination.

The study was conducted by John H. Krouse, MD, FACS, and Helene J. Krouse, PhD, ARNP, a nurse practitioner, both from Ormond Beach, FL and was released in September 1998. Their study examined sinus-related symptomatology and quality life for those who have undergone surgery and those receiving medical treatment only.

Background on Chronic Sinusitis
More than that 30 million Americans suffer from chronic allergic sinusitis and rhinosinusitis, the most common chronic disease in the United States. Both conditions account for millions of physician visits yearly, accounting for billions in health care costs. Traditional treatments for sinusitis include the use of medications and endoscopic surgery, the latter recommended when the sinus passages are permanently blocked.

It is estimated 40 percent of sinusitis sufferers use alternative and complementary techniques along with traditional treatments to control their symptoms. These alternative and complementary therapies include acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation, biofeedback, herbal therapy, exercise and the use of air filters.

Study Methodology
The study group selected consisted of 340 patients diagnosed with chronic sinusitis based on the results of a CT (computed tomography) scan and/or endoscopic nasal examinations conducted five years earlier. All patients had been treated with medical and/or surgical therapy. This group was mailed a set of survey instruments describing the study and asked to respond.

Eighty-four patients returned the questionnaires (response rate of 31 percent). Of this group, 59 had undergone endoscopic sinus surgery in addition to medical treatment, and 25 were treated with medical therapy alone. The mean age of patients in this study was 63 years, with an age range of 27 to 83 years. CT scans were obtained for patients at the time of their original treatment.

Patients' use of alternative and complementary therapies were assessed using a 20 item self-reporting questionnaire developed by the researchers. Sinus-related symptomatology and quality of life were assessed using the Sino-Nasal Outcome Tool, a survey instrument used to rate 16 common sinus-related symptoms. A correlation was conducted using both survey results.

Research Results
The study results produced the following key conclusions regarding chronic sinusitis sufferers:

Exercise is employed more frequently than any therapy or treatment in an effort to control symptoms. Other complementary therapies such as air filters and dietary supplements were also used more than traditional medical treatments.

Younger patients were more symptomatic and perceived a lower standard of living than did their older counterparts. Additionally, this age group is more likely to use alternative therapies to augment both prescriptive and non-prescriptive medications.

Surgical therapy does appear to improve the quality of life for those with severe disease. Symptoms may continue, however, but to a lesser degree.
Source: American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery (AAOHNS)


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