Can Sinus Issues Cause Dementia?
Longtime readers know that I often mention the many adverse effects of letting sinus troubles go untreated: sleep loss, headaches, and depression, to name just a few. In most of these cases, the cause is clear – obstructed respiration robs the body of rest and oxygen, two things that are utterly essential to our overall wellbeing.
But the stakes were raised this month when a new study was released linking small issues like sinus complaints to one of the most debilitating diseases in medicine: dementia. As a New York Times article put it:
The findings, published on Wednesday in the journal Neurology, are based on an analysis of 7,239 people age 65 and older who took part in the Canadian Study of Health and Aging between 1992 and 2002. Investigators intentionally ignored traditional dementia risk factors like heart disease and diabetes and focused on seemingly inconsequential health issues often associated with aging, like sinus complaints, foot and ankle conditions, skin problems and trouble with vision, hearing or dental health.
Taken alone, none of these health conditions are related to a person’s dementia risk. But when investigators combined these relatively minor physical ailments into a single “frailty index,’’ they found a significant cumulative effect on dementia risk.
Two things could be going on here. The first is that these “seemingly inconsequential” issues affect mobility and quality of life, which then in turn affect mental acuity. The other is that these ailments may act as a canary in the coalmine, alerting patients and their caregivers to a faulty repair system somewhere in the body.
Either way, it is safe to assume that most such ailments are better treated earlier than later. So fix that ankle, visit your dermatologist, and call your sinus doctor today. You never know the ways your life might improve.