Consequences of evolution: Is rhinosinusitis, like otitis media, a unique disease of humans?

Charles D. Bluestone, Anthony S. Pagano, J. Douglas Swarts, Jeffrey T. Laitman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We hypothesize that if otitis media is most likely primarily a human disease due to consequences of evolution, rhinosinusitis may also be limited to humans for similar reasons. If otitis media, with its associated hearing loss, occurred in animals in the wild, they probably would have been culled out by predation. Similarly, if rhinosinusitis occurred regularly in animals, they likely would have suffered from severely decreased olfactory abilities, crucial for predator avoidance, and presumably would likewise have been selected against evolutionarily. Thus, both otitis media and rhinosinusitis-common conditions particularly in infants and young children-appear to be essentially human conditions. Their manifestation in our species is likely due to our unique evolutionary trajectory and may be a consequence of adaptations, including adaptations to bipedalism and speech, loss of prognathism, and immunologic and environmental factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)986-991
Number of pages6
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Evolution
  • Olfaction
  • Otitis media
  • Rhinosinusitis


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