Sinusitis

14 August 2017

7 things in your home that can cause sinusitis

Vacuuming and other chores around the house may be a pain in the neck, but not cleaning properly can make you sick.

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If you suffer from chronic sinusitis, you might be blaming your condition on a number of factors – from the time of year to the air-conditioning at the office. But have you ever taken a look at what might be lurking in the nooks and crannies of your own home?

We hate the idea that the safe haven we call "home" can make us sick. And we like to think that our living spaces are clean, which might however not be always the case – especially when it’s windy, humid or damp.

Chronic sinusitis is caused by inflammation in the tissue lining the sinuses. This can lead to infection and the onset of unpleasant symptoms such as a sinus headache, thickened mucus, congested nasal passages and fever.

What’s lurking in your home?

Sinusitis may be caused by external factors such as dust, pollen, animal hair, house-dust-mites and fumes given off by chemicals. So if you have sinusitis and it's not clearing up, it’s time to check how clean your house really is.

1. Dust

It can be very easy to merely clean and vacuum on the surface while neglecting hard-to-reach areas such as curtain rails, skirting boards and nooks and crannies such as blinds and ventilators. Always pay attention to these often-overlooked areas, especially if you live in a dusty or windy area. Your vacuum cleaner might seem like the most effective cleaning appliance, but you might want to bear in mind that it can actually contribute to the dust problem if you don’t clean the filter often enough. A dirty filter will just blow dust back into the air. Make sure you regularly empty the filter bag of your vacuum cleaner.

vacuuming a rug

2.  Mould

Before you say “yuck” and protest that you don’t have a mould problem in your house, check it out. Mould is more common than you think and can appear near leaky sinks, underneath wallpaper, on leaky ceilings, underneath carpets, on curtains and blinds and even on your clothes. If you can’t pinpoint the cause of your sinusitis and you live in humid or damp conditions, start investigating. Mould isn’t always visible to the naked eye.

mould

3. Your fluffy friends

Of course we aren't suggesting you get rid of your pets, but if you find your cat or dog is shedding hair in the house, it can be the cause of your sinus problems, especially if they're allowed on bedding or upholstery, where the hair tends to stick. If your sinusitis is extremely bad, try keeping them off beds and couches. Vacuum your house and groom your pets regularly. Also regularly clean areas such as cages and cat litter boxes to remove bacteria and allergens.

cats on a duvet

4. Perfumes and toiletries

Investigate your beauty products and toiletries as strong fragrances found in products such as hairspray and perfumes can linger in the air, triggering sinus symptoms. If you can’t find the specific fragrance or product that’s making your head feel thick and heavy, limit your use of perfumed products. Also be mindful of where you get ready for the day – spraying perfumed products in poorly ventilated, enclosed spaces can aggravate sinus problems.

woman spraying her perfume

5. Your cleaning products

It may sound counter-intuitive blaming cleaning products when dirt's the main problem, but harsh chemicals can also affect your sinuses. Replace normal household detergents with "milder" brands.

cleaning products

6. Houseplants and flowers

Plants and flowers add a touch of colour to any home, but they might be to blame for your poor sinus health. Flowers with a high pollen count such as daisies and chrysanthemums can be especially harsh on your sinuses, while house plants such as ficus can produce allergens through their sap, which can attach to dust particles. Rather choose plants with a low pollen count that actually filter the air such as mother-in-law’s tongue.

flowers

7. The swimming pool

Your swimming pool might be a treat during summer months, but chlorine might be the cause of your sinusitis. Studies have proven a definite link between swimming and sinus symptoms. High chlorine levels can cause chlorine sensitivity, which can aggravate sinusitis. An indoor pool, heated tub or sauna can also increase moisture levels in your house, which leads to mould (see point 2). Keep chlorine levels as low as possible and make sure there's no mould and leakage. 

girl swimming

All images supplied by iStock.

 

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Sinusitis Expert

Dr Gary Kroukamp MBCHB, FCORL(SA) is an ENT Specialist, practising from rooms at Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont, Cape Town. He also has a teaching sessional appointment as an ENT Consultant at the Tygerberg Hospital. He is a member of the ENT Society of South Africa and the South African Cochlear Implantation Group. His interests in the ENT field include sinusitis and sinus surgery, nasal allergy and ENT conditions in children.

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