Always stuffed up? Lingering head cold could signal serious problem

CALGARY – For more than 20 years, Chris Dyson has felt like he had a cold.

“It was like really severe allergies,” he said.

“My sense of smell and taste was going down, and I felt like I was sick all the time.”

After antihistamines and antibiotics failed, Dyson learned his so-called cold was chronic sinusitis–an inflammatory disease that causes pain, pressure and the feeling of always being stuffed up.

Calgary ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. Luke Rudmik estimates 5 per cent of the population suffers from chronic sinusitis. Despite the fact it has roughly the same prevalence as asthma or diabetes, there’s significantly less research dedicated to it.

In a paper recently published in the Journal of Otolarynology – Head and Neck Surgery, Rudmik found internally, there’s about four times the research devoted to asthma and 10 times the research devoted to diabetes as there is to chronic sinusitis.

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“What I want to see is that patients are better educated about this condition and physicians better educated,” he said.

“By the time I see patients, they’ve been suffering for many, many years.”

Symptoms of sinusitis include nasal obstruction, runny nose, facial pressure and pain, and a reduced sense of smell and taste. Once diagnosed the condition can be treated with rinses and steroid spray. Endoscopic surgery can help increase the effectiveness of medication, but there is no cure.

Dyson finally had sinus surgery last December. He says the day procedure has significantly improved his overall quality of life.

“I was booking off sick all the time. I was having problems sleeping and now I haven’t had any sick days this year. I feel amazing.”

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