By John Salak –
Sinus infections can be a pain in the neck. The Mayo Clinic warns that they can also lead to high fevers, confusion, double vision, pain and swelling around the eyes, increased ear pressure, aching teeth and coughs. Essentially, they can make life miserable for those suffering from these infections.
Unfortunately, every year about 30 million adults—more than 10 percent of the U.S. adult population—get hit with these infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Usually, the problem is brought on by the common cold and relief comes in a week to 10 days.
Relief, however, doesn’t always come that fast and there is the threat of more severe problems if additional bacterial infections set in. The condition can become chronic for some. Yet even a common sinus issue is usually an undeniably miserable experience.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania may have sniffed out some relief. They now report that an exhalation delivery system that uses a patient’s own breath to carry the anti-inflammatory compound fluticasone (EDS-FLU) directly to the sinuses can quickly and significantly ease the problems.
The system, in fact, reduced chronic sinus infection (sinusitis) symptoms and decreased aggravations and infections associated with chronic inflammation by more than 50 percent, they report. The results stem from an examination that compared EDS-FLU to a placebo in more than 500 adults with chronic rhinosinusitis with or without nasal polyps. Patients used either EDS-FLU or a placebo twice daily for 24 weeks.
EDS-FLU works through a patient exhaling into the device to send the medication deep into the far reaches of their sinus cavities, where the topical medication is most effective. Compared to a placebo, sinus symptom scores and CT scan results were significantly improved. Nasal congestion, nasal discharge, facial pain and pressure and the loss of smell all improved dramatically with EDS-FLU compared to the placebo, the team reported.
“Chronic sinusitis affects as much as 10 percent of the United States population and can make breathing uncomfortable and negatively impact a person’s daily life,” noted lead author Dr. James N. Palmer, a professor of otorhinolaryngology and director of Rhinology at Penn Medicine. “These findings provide strong evidence for an effective, non-invasive treatment option for people who continue to experience symptoms after over-the-counter medications have failed.”
The Penn team acknowledged that over-the-counter nasal sprays offer marginal relief, but the researchers stressed that no FDA-approved medication exists for the most common form of the condition, chronic rhinosinusitis without nasal polyps, known as chronic sinusitis.
While some nasal sprays may offer some symptom relief, patients who were using a standard-delivery nasal spray before study enrollment still reported similar improvements in symptoms compared to others in the study.
Ultimately, these clinical trials show that EDS-FLU medication reduces subjective symptoms and objective measures of sinus disease for patients with chronic sinusitis, both with and without polyps, clearing the way to expand treatments for these individuals.