Chronic sinusitis is an inflammatory diseases of the sinus mucosa that causes a significant decrease in quality of life. The quality of life detriment is comparable or worse than other chronic diseases such as asthma and cardiac disease. Chronic sinusitis has been associated with depression, decreased cognitive function, anxiety and diminished sleep. Chronic sinusitis is a burden to society and the health care system in direct costs and indirect costs leading to lost productivity and related to missed days of work and school.
In a study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, researchers sought to determine which patterns of chronic sinusitis symptoms led to the lost productivity. At the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, patients 18 years and older were recruited who met the criteria of chronic sinusitis. A total of 107 patients were recruited. Patients missed an average of 13 days of work or school because of chronic sinusitis. Lost productivity was most strongly associated with emotional function. Lost productivity was less associated with nasal symptoms.
Symptoms of depression from chronic sinusitis are most strongly associated with missed days of work and school. The annual economic effect of lost productivity secondary to chronic sinusitis is more than $10,000 per patient. Depression is highly prevalent in chronic sinusitis with patients reporting having symptoms anywhere from 9-40%. Emotional function had the greatest impact in patients with chronic sinusitis, more than sleep, nasal symptoms and ear/facial pressure and pain.
For patients with chronic sinus problems, the emotional well being should always be discussed in addition to the physical symptoms, as the rate of depression is very high in these patients. If a patient with chronic sinusitis has signs of depression, they should be referred to the appropriate health care professional for their symptoms to be managed. Chronic sinusitis and depression are a high health care burden leading to decreased productivity and missed days of work and school.