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Mayo Clinic research shows common airborne fungi cause chronic stuffy nose

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- A team led by Mayo Clinic researchers has determined that over-reactive immune responses to airborne fungi could cause the stuffy noses and airway inflammation among sufferers of chronic rhinosinusitis. These findings could one day lead to a new, longer-lasting treatment.

"It's time to recognize there is a greater sensitivity to airborne fungi in some patients, and therefore we need to remove or reduce the fungal exposure," says lead investigator Hirohito Kita, M.D.

In today's electronic edition of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology http://www2.us.elsevierhealth.com/scripts/om.dll/serve?action=searchDB&searchDBfor=home&id=ai, the Mayo Clinic researchers and a colleague from the University of Utah conclude that certain species of airborne fungus produce spores and by-products, that when inhaled, prompt irregular and damaging immune responses. The responses, in turn, produce the congestion and inflammation. Chronic rhinosinusitis costs society about $5.6 billion a year. And that doesn't include an estimated $70 million in annual lost work days, as well as a diminished quality of life.

Implications of Research

"The fungi we're talking about are very common," Dr. Kita. "They are airborne fungi found anywhere in the United States. Now that we know the role of the fungi, we can work toward reducing the potential role of the fungi through such treatments as nasal irrigations (flushing with water) that clear the fungi, or prescription of antifungal medicines taken by mouth."

Preliminary results show that the irrigation treatment relieves symptoms. Larger, multicenter studies are needed before this treatment can move into general use. But the results are encouraging because they support the idea that reducing fungal exposure in sensitive individuals could offer a new treatment
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Contact: Bob Nellis
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
8-Oct-2004


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