“In a Harvard Medical School study we found that people with chronic sinusitis reported the highest levels of pain among the diseases we compared, which included heart disease and lower back pain. Our study found sinusitis had a significant effect on work life, energy, and mental health,” says Ralph Metson, M.D., Clinical Professor of Otology and Laryngology at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.
In The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healing Your Sinuses, Dr. Metson discusses the disease that afflicts more than 35 million Americans — 17.4 percent of the adult population — a year, according to a 2004 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Sinusitis is an inflammation or infection of the air pockets by the nose, and can be caused by bacteria, viruses, molds and possibly allergies. Despite the fact that Americans plagued by the symptoms of sinusitis miss about 25 million workdays a year, the disease is so unfamiliar to the general public that people who talk about their discomfort risk being labeled as complainers. Yet sinusitis often has a significant effect on an individual’s ability to lead a normal life, as chronic infections keep returning even with repeated courses of medications.
Dr. Metson’s research and clinical activities have placed him at the forefront of new treatment developments for patients with difficult to treat sinusitis. His research, which is the basis for the book, has focused on three main areas: the impact of sinusitis on quality of life; the development of new techniques to treat sinusitis; and the introduction of computer navigation systems to enhance the safety and efficacy of sinus surgery.
Dr. Metson, who has performed more than 3,000 sinus surgeries, discusses the full range of treatment options for sinusitis, covering topics such as:
- The pros and cons of decongestants, antibiotics, and nasal steroids
- The vital role of daily saltwater irrigation
- The benefits of simple devices such as humidifiers and nasal tape
- Alternative therapies such as acupuncture and herbal supplements
This book enables readers to develop a “total sinus management plan” tailored to their needs. It outlines a stepwise approach for the treatment of sinusitis that includes the following topics:
- How people can identify the cause of their sinus infections
- How diet and lifestyle affect the sinuses
- Fungus as a cause for sinusitis
- Diseases that mimic sinusitis, such as migraines and dental pain
- Problems related to sinusitis such as a deviated septum and snoring
- The future of sinus treatment, including gene therapy and robot-enhanced surgery
The book reflects a philosophy Dr. Metson has developed over the past two decades treating patients with sinus disorders. His goal was to write a book about sinusitis that is based on scientific fact yet includes his opinions on what treatments he thinks are best, and that discusses the latest technical advances but also gives simple, practical advice on how to get relief from common symptoms. Original illustrations are used throughout the book to explain key points.