"My Voice"

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Smoking and sinusitis

Smoking is one of the most important causes of head and neck cancer.
Another important untoward result of active and second hand smoke exposure is the increased risk of respiratory bacterial infection. These include sinusitis, ear infections, bronchitis and pneumonia. Recent studies we and others did show that smokers harbor more pathogenic bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, can be a source of spread of these bacteria to others (including their household members), and when smokers get respiratory infections treating them may be more difficult than treating non-smokers. These changes are reversible once smokers stop smoking.

A recent study of smokers with sinusitis we have just completed shows that sinusitis in smokers is often caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria including methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Since many head and neck cancer survivors are engaged in educating young individuals about the risks of smoking this information may be useful to them in encouraging them to stop smoking.