Memory Loss, Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia?
The problem may be from your sinuses.
Franklyn R. Gergits, MBA, DO, FAOC
Memory loss is unusual forgetfulness and can be frightening to those experiencing it and their loved ones. When you are experiencing memory loss you may not be able to remember new events, recall one or more memories of the past, or both. The memory loss may be for a short time and then resolve. Memory Loss or dementia are not often associated with sinus infections. However, when proper testing is completed, a correlation might be found and a unique treatment plan that addresses sinus disease may be the only way to improve memory loss. That is what a recent patient at Sinus and Allergy Wellness Center experienced to be true!
We recently saw a 71-year-old gentleman, Pat, who had developed memory loss. His wife noticed the sudden change in his memory and behavior. They went to see their Primary Care provider who scheduled imaging studies and a follow up with Neurology Specialists for further evaluation. The MRI Imaging studies showed no intracranial (brain) abnormalities however, they did see that sinus disease was present. Pat then completed extensive Memory, Cognitive and Neurological Testing which showed a significant problem with memory. He was provided with new medications as well as exercises to perform at home to hopefully help improve memory function.
The Primary Care Provider also recommend that he visit an ENT (ear, nose and throat doctor) and referred him to Sinus and Allergy Wellness Center to help with his sinus and nasal problems. During his first appointment at our practice, we uncovered that there was significant infection in his nasal airways and cavities that needed to be removed. Pat’s CT scan showed chronic sinusitis with nasal breathing obstruction which had been ongoing for some time. In the past, his Primary Care Physician prescribed antibiotics multiple time per year which helped resolve his symptoms for a short period of time. However, he still complained of chronic facial pressure, drainage, and congestion. He had grown to know these issues as his norm.
We recommended the OPEN Procedure℠ which is an advanced alternative to traditional sinus surgery. It is a minimally invasive procedure performed in-office by our team of sinus specialists. It is a safe procedure that does not involve cutting, tissue removal. The in-office procedure typically lasts about an hour, and patients enjoy a speedy recovery time regardless of their age.
After we performed the Open Procedure in our in-office treatment center, Pat noted a 56% improvement with his Memory, Cognitive and Neurological test scores. He and his is wife were both thrilled with his outcomes. Not only does he feel more like himself, his sleep, post nasal drainage, nasal congestion and chronic facial pressure are all resolved as well. His Primary Care Physician and Neurology Specialists were both happy that this was an option where he would not require a general anesthetic which has been shown to cause or worsen Brain Fog. He completed the procedure without any problems and healing progressed as expected.
On Pat’s first follow up after the Open Procedure, he was already breathing and sleeping better. His sinus symptoms were improving as well. On his 9-week, follow up appointment, Pat’s wife had already noticed some improvement in his memory. He had been performing his memory exercises as instructed by his Neurologist. 6 months following his procedure, he returned to the Neurology for repeat Memory, Cognitive and Neurological Testing. Pat improved by 56%! The staff and his Neurologist were quite surprised since this degree of improvement is not typically seen with just memory exercises or medications. Pat informed his Neurologist about the Open Procedure and how it has helped his sleep, nasal and sinus symptoms. He was recommended to continue with the exercises but more importantly, he was able to discontinue the new medications he was placed on for Memory Problems.
Sinusitis is an inflammatory condition that affects 11.6 % of American adults annually or roughly 30 million people. It is estimated to add $5.8 Billion to the medical system expenses every year. (1) When the sinuses are inflamed, this inflammatory reaction also extends into the nose and the associated nasal structures which adds to congestion and decreases easy breathing through the nasal cavity. This in turn causes a decreased sleep quality and when that occurs, the brain may be held without adequate oxygen supply. If the brain rest is decreased, we can see changes such as Brain Fog that may have complicated Pat’s memory. Inflammation within the nasal and sinus passages can also spread to other areas of the body so reducing sinusitis, may help to lower “whole body” inflammation. He did not have a serious brain infection which fortunately is rare for patients experiencing sinusitis in the USA. Finally, some medications we may take for nasal/sinus troubles (even over the counter medications) may alter our sleep pattens and possibly cause Brain Fog as well. (2)
As America ages, unfortunately Memory Loss caused by Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease or Brain Fog occurs more commonly. Before we just place our patients in a Neurological Memory Loss category, it is important to address any nasal/sinus problems that may be a less common cause for these memory changes. Here at Sinus and Allergy Wellness Center, we may be able to help identify problems within the nose/sinuses and once these troubles are corrected, maybe you too will see improvements like Pat noted this past 4 months.
If you live in Scottsdale or Fountain Hills, Arizona, you may contact the Sinus & Allergy Wellness Center via our website or call 480-493-4941 for more information on the Open Procedure.
1) www.SAWC.com, Sinusitis Statistics 2020-2019 Sinusitis Facts and Data trends. Sinus and Allergy Wellness Center Blog.
2) www.news24.com, 6 Ways Sinusitis can cause a Mysterious ‘Brain Fog’. Marelize Wilke, July 25, 2017.