Tired of that constant blocked, stuffy feeling? You’re not alone.
What is sinusitis?
Every year millions of people suffer the annoying and painful effects of sinusitis that can drag on for months or years, with little relief. The sinuses are the cavities around your nasal passages that filter and humidify the air you inhale. The lining of the sinuses contain little hair-like cells, cilia, which collect and sweep out pollutants, micro-organisms, dust, and dirt from the nasal passages.
In healthy people, sinus secretions are always moving and draining into the nasal cavity. Sinusitis, when the cavities become inflamed and swollen, occurs when the movement of those secretions is blocked or mucous is thickened.
Acute and chronic sinusitis have similar symptoms although acute sinusitis is a temporary infection often associated with a cold or flu that causes the sinuses to become inflamed and blocked, allowing a bacterial infection to develop, possibly with a fever, but clears up a few weeks after the cold has gone. Chronic sinusitis, also known as chronic rhinosinusitis, can last eight to twelve weeks and often longer, symptoms often wax and wane, but it does not cause fever. It mostly affects young and middle aged adults, although children can also suffer from it.
If you have chronic sinusitis, it may be difficult to breathe through your nose and you always feel ‘blocked’ or stuffy. The area around your eyes, cheeks and forehead may feel swollen and tender, you may have throbbing facial pain or a headache, your sense of smell and taste are reduced and you may experience drainage of a thick yellow or greenish mucous from the nose or down the back of the throat.
Other symptoms include ear pain, aching in the upper jaw and teeth, a sore throat and bad breath, fatigue and irritability, nasal sounding speech and sometimes a cough which is worse at night.
Aeroplane travel, particularly when the plane is descending to land, can be especially painful. As the air pressure in the cabin changes, the pressure doesn’t equalise between the sinuses and outside air due to the blockage.
- Allergies are believed to be one of the triggers to chronic sinusitis. Hayfever, regular exposure to other allergens such as dust mites, or pollutants such as cigarette smoke.
- An immune system disorder such as cystic fibrosis or HIV/AIDS are also a cause, as is aspirin sensitivity that causes respiratory symptoms.
- You might exacerbate the condition if you eat mucous-forming foods such as excessive wheat products like bread, pasta and cereals that contain gluten; excessive sugar, dairy products like ice cream and yoghurt and fruit juices (rather eat fresh fruit instead).
- Complications from gastroesophegal reflux may also trigger chronic sinusitis, as might other digestive system problems such as an imbalance of gut flora. Use of antibiotics upset the delicate balance of gut flora, leading to an overgrowth of bad gut flora. This causes digestive symptoms such as flatulence, cramps, bloating, indigestion and inflammation of the gut lining commonly associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
- Yet consider that the same mucous lining of our guts extends from our nasal passages down the esophagus into our stomach and to our guts, and you will understand why naturopaths regard an imbalance in the gut to be linked to chronic sinusitis. Many times rectifying the imbalance in the gut can relieve the chronic sinusitis.
- And – this is where it gets interesting - inflammatory conditions such as asthma. About 1 in 5 people who suffer from asthma also have chronic sinusitis.
- Until recently antibiotics were often used to treat the infection that most experts believed were the root cause of chronic sinusitis. However patients would relapse and this caused researchers to question their assumptions.
- Today researchers believe chronic sinusitis to be an inflammatory disease process, just as asthma is. Which is why antibiotics have done little to help sufferers. Now treatment is refocussed on reducing the underlying inflammation, and research is trying to uncover what causes the inflammation to begin with.
- Some research groups are investigating weaknesses in the innate immune defences of the nose and sinuses. Other groups are exploring the role of bacteria which just through their presence can stimulate inflammation without causing infections.
- Make sure you rest and get sufficient sleep every night. Your body needs it to fight inflammation. Chronic sinusitis sufferers often feel extremely fatigued and low in energy.
- Avoid allergens and pollutants as much as possible.
- Get lots of fresh air, open windows and allow fresh air to circulate through your home or office constantly if you can.
- Drink lots of fluids, mostly water. It helps to dilute mucous and encourage drainage. Keep caffeine and alcohol to a minimum as they are dehydrating and in the case of alcohol, can worsen the swelling in the sinus and nasal cavities.
- Apply warm compresses to the face, cheeks, nose and forehead to ease pain.
- A hot shower can help. Breathing in the warm, moist air helps ease discomfort and encourages mucous drainage.
- Rinse out your nasal passages daily with a saline solution. Many people who do this find they no longer experience the symptoms of chronic sinusitis.
- Sleeping with your head higher than your chest will help the sinuses drain.
- Take a good Omega 3 supplement daily. Omega 3 is anti-inflammatory so it will help your body flight the inflammation in your sinuses.
- MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is a naturally occurring sulphur compound that is found in plants and animal tissues, including the human body. MSM is necessary for the formation of cartilage, connective tissue, red blood cells, muscles, hair and skin, and is crucial to healing wounds. Unfortunately today many of us don’t get enough MSM in our diets. Long used for pain relief, especially joint pain, its ability to clear inflammation is well known, and this benefit extends to inflammation of the sinuses. We recommend THRESHHold RealMSM.
- If you have been on antibiotics in the past year, try a digestive prebiotic tonic like A.Vogel’s Molkosan®. Antibiotics destroy good gut flora allowing bad gut flora to proliferate. Molkosan® helps to restore the optimum condition of the gut wall, preventing the bad bacteria from attaching to the gut lining and thus making it possible for good gut flora to rebalance themselves. In many instances, just this simple treatment of Molkosan®, taken three times daily till the bottle is finished, has helped to alleviate a chronic sinusitis condition.
- Inhale A.Vogel’s Po-Ho oil – the name comes from the Mandarin name for peppermint - a deliciously scented essential oil containing peppermint, eucalyptus, juniper, carraway and fennel. Peppermint and eucalyptus are renown for helping to maintain clear cool breathing and help clear the airways.
- Put a few drops of Po-Ho oil onto a handkerchief or bunched-up tissue, hold it to your nose and inhale. You can also put the essential oil soaked handkerchief into your pillowcase or next to your pillow to help you sleep better.
- If you need to inhale an extra boost of essential oils, put one drop of Po-Ho oil into a steaming-hot bowl of water, lean over, cover your head and bowl with a small towel, and inhale. Do this carefully as the oils can initially feel quite strong to your eyes when you inhale.
- Po-Ho essential oil can also be rubbed onto the front of your upper chest – your body heat will release a constant supply of essential oils for you to inhale. 1 drop of Po-Ho oil should be mixed with 15 drops of base oil before rubbing onto your chest.
- A.Vogel’s Echinaforce® is not just for colds and flu treatment. This fresh herbal extract boasts clinically proven anti inflammatory properties as well as immune modulatory effects, so taking it daily can help your body reduce the underlying inflammation.
- A.Vogel Sinuforce tablets are a homoeopathic alternative for the treatment of sinusitis and sinus congestion, post nasal drip and rhinitis due to colds and allergies.
As Dr Vogel said, tackle the cause of illness and disease, and work in harmony with nature. Man is a unit of body and mind – a marvel of nature and subject to nature’s laws.