Hurricane Harvey’s Mold May Be Affecting Your Sinuses

September 28, 2017

3 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

Chronic sinus got you down? The cause may be Hurricane Harvey and its lasting effects on Houstonian’s homes and workplaces. If you suffer from sinusitis, consider the following tips for eradicating mold to can might alleviate your chronic sinusitis and help keep new sinus infections at bay.

Twenty years ago, researchers assumed that all sinus infections were the result of either bacterial or viral infection. Today, scientists now recognize that when fungi such as mold enters the sinus cavity, a suppressed immune system is likely to have a strong adverse reaction, the result of which is fungal sinusitis. Fungi love damp, dark conditions, making the sinus cavity both a perfect environment for fungi to grow and a difficult place to eliminate it once it’s there. Research now shows that moldy homes and work environments are responsible for chronic sinus issues in as many as nine out of ten cases.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to tell the difference between sinus issues caused by fungi and those caused by viruses or bacteria. The symptoms of all three types of sinus infections—headaches, sinus pressure, congestion, and discolored discharge—are the same. Complicating matters, a sinus infection may be caused by a combination of two or even all three causes. However, if antibiotics haven’t eradicated your sinus problems (antibiotics can’t kill fungi) and decongestants have little effect on your symptoms, it’s more likely that fungal sinusitis is the culprit behind your sinusitis.

Your best course of action if you suspect that mold may be causing your sinus problems would be to get tested for fungal sinusitis by your doctor. If it turns out that your chronic sinus problems are caused by mold, there are several treatments and preventative actions available to you. Some fungal sinus problems require surgery to remove the fungus – this is usually done with a simple, in-office procedure called Balloon Sinuplasty. While balloon Sinuplasty is a very effective treatment, certain types of fungus are more resilient and may recur.

For Houstonian’s whose homes and workplaces were damaged by Harvey, a diligent investigation into whether those spaces are mold-free will up your chances of avoiding fungal sinusitis. To protect yourself from fungal sinusitis, keep fresh air circulating throughout the home to avoid temperature extremes which creates moisture and the perfect environment for mold. Only use your humidifier in the dry months, and keep houseplants to a minimum – a few are good for air quality, but too many will increase humidity. Don’t leave any leaks uncared for, and attack any mold you find with bleach to make sure it is killed. Call a mold removal service if you find that mold has taken root deeper in your home.

By taking these few simple precautions you can keep down the amount of mold you are exposed to and may well find that your sinus problem clear up once the mold is eliminated. A mold-free and sinus-free home and workplace are two less problems to worry about as Houston rebuilds itself.


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