Can cats cause sinusitis in people who are NOT allergic to cats?

Google does not help me in answering the question in the title. I’ll have to work it out. Although the question may have occurred to many people. Sinusitis is one of the most common health complaints leading to a physician visit in the United States. It’ll be the same in many Western, Asian and developing countries. CDC in America tell us that 28.9 million adults have been diagnosed with sinusitis in America. That’s the scale of the problem.

Sinusitis in humans caused by cats?
Sinusitis in humans caused by cats? Image: MikeB
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Perhaps the most common cause of sinusitis in people is a secondary bacterial infection to a primary viral infection causing a common cold. There are other causes. A person with a weakened immune system will be more predisposed to this health problem.

Polluted air

Air pollution can cause sinusitis. A Johns Hopkins Medicine study showed that exposure to air pollution with PM 2.5 may lead to chronic sinusitis. They say the continual exposure to dirty air can lead to a range of problems including sinusitis. Wood-burning stoves for example in places like New Delhi, and Beijing predispose homeowners to sinusitis.

PM 2.5

PM 2.5 needs to be explained. It refers to fine particle matter which is 2.5 µm (microns) or less in diameter. The reason why I explained that measure of size is because I want to compare the size of small particles in polluted air with the size of cat dander floating around the home of pet owners.

Cat dander

Cat dander is made up of microscopic bits of dead skin that cats and dogs shed and on which is the Fel D1 cat allergen. About 75% of cat dander particles are 5-10 µm in diameter. This is smaller than the diameter of a single human hair. Twenty-five percent of cat dander particles floating in the air are smaller than 2.5 µm according to a HEPA air purifier website.

Right away, I can see my way through to answering the question in the title. Google does not find an answer to that question in their search results.

Google unhelpful

Google’s search results tell us that people who are allergic to cats may suffer from sinusitis because of that allergy. This is an immune response to the Fel D1 cat allergen. It doesn’t just cause sinusitis but itchy eyes and runny noses. We know the symptoms.

Fine particle pollution

But if a person is not allergic to cats it seems to me that because cat dander pollutes the air of the home with microscopic particles that are of a similar size to particles that we know can cause chronic sinusitis, it is reasonable to suggest that it might cause sinusitis in a cat owner.

That owner may have never suffered from a cat allergy. A cat allergy may be irrelevant to this discussion. The relevancy is about the size of small particles in the air which are breathed in through the nose and which irritate the lining of the nose. And some of these particles maybe travel into the sinuses.

Range of cat allergy reactions

Although it should be said that an allergy to cats takes many forms. It can be bad or slight. A cat owner may have a mild allergy to cats without being aware of it but it may cause sinusitis.

Sinuses

The paranasal sinuses are located near the nose and they connect the nasal cavity. There are four paranasal sinuses each corresponding with the respective bone from which they take their name: maxillary, ethmoid, centroid and frontal. That information comes from the National Institutes of Health in America.

What to do?

So let us say that it is at least reasonable to suggest that cats can cause sinusitis in people who are not allergic to cats. What can they do about it? The only thing that I can think of as a proactive measure is to employ an air filtration system in the home of some sort to minimise the amount of cat dander in the air.

Air filter
Air filter. Image: MikeB

A secondary reactive measure it to flush the sinuses with NeilMed to get rid of those pollutants in the nasal cavity. I recommend this system. It is GP recommended too.

NeilMed
NeilMed. Image: MikeB

I stress, that this is not about Fel D1 but about particles. Cat dander microscopic particles can stay in the air for quite a long time and they can stick to carpets, pillows and other surfaces. They may remain in the home for six months. I’m told that cat dander lasts longer than dog dander as its more airborne.

Love cats

Disclaimer: this is not an anti-cat article. I love cats as you know. And no one will give up their cat because of what I am suggesting. I’m just trying to get to the bottom of what is a very prevalent problem for people namely sinusitis. I’m not even saying that low-level chronic sinusitis is or can be caused by cat dander. I’m just saying that it might be and people might be sensible to take heed of that and try and do something about it if they are struggling with this debilitating disease.

Postscript

P.S. Cats can also suffer from sinusitis. I wander if cat dander can cause it in cats!? Also, humans produce their own version of dander which begs the question whether than exacerbates sinus issues. I don’t have the answer.

P.P.S. Suffers should also look at the foods they eat. There is a strong case for removing dairy products and products containing processed sugars. Doing this may assist in alleviating the symptoms.

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