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Sinusitis - A Sticky Issue PDF Print E-mail
Are you constantly battling with sinus head-aches, tired eyes and a persistent post nasal drip? You may be suffering from chronic sinusitis – an affliction that affects people of all ages.
Sinusitis is not just as a result of pollen or cat-hair; it can be due to a Candida (thrush) overgrowth, food intolerances and yeast sensitivity.

What are the Sinuses?
The paranasal sinuses are air-filled cavities inside the bones of the skull. They are located on either side of the nose, behind and between the eyes, and in the forehead; there is also one further back in the head.
They are lined with mucous-secreting cells, and they warm, moisten and filter air breathed in. Air reaches the sinuses through small openings in the bones (ostia) that connect to the nasal passageways. The mucus-producing cells have small hairlike fibres (cilia) that move back and forth to help mucus move towards the ostia and out of the sinuses. If these openings become blocked, air can't properly pass into the sinuses and mucus can't drain out. Mucus builds up in the sinus, causing pressure or pain. Also, the mucus is an excellent culture medium for bacteria, and infection can result.

What Causes the Sinuses to become Inflamed?
Sinusitis usually results when microbes are spread from the nose and the pharynx to the mucous membrane lining the paranasal sinuses. The primary viral infection is usually followed by a secondary bacterial infection. The congested mucosa may block the openings between the nose and the sinuses, thus preventing drainage of the infected discharge. Symptoms may include facial pain and headaches. If there are repeated attacks or if recovery is not complete, the infections may become chronic. Hay fever may also cause sinusitis and environmental allergens or exposure to dust and irritants such as tobacco smoke can cause persistent symptoms or chronic sinusitis. One of the important things to remember is that just because there is no mucus discharge does not mean that there is no sinusitis. The sinuses can still be painful and inflamed without any evidence of mucus. 

The other less thought of culprits that can lead to sinusitis are mucous-forming foods such as dairy products and wheat. There have also been links to sinusitis and an overgrowth of Candida albicans (more commonly known as thrush), this is often accompanied by chronic lower back-ache!

However, chronic sinusitis can also be as a result of a food intolerance which does not necessarily have to be the chief culprits listed above. Many people have intolerances to so-called ‘healthy’ foods the likes of baby marrows, broccoli, tomatoes etc. As the saying goes “”one man’s meat is another man’s poison”. There is no doubt that the digestive tract and the sinuses are connected. If there is chronic inflammation in the gut – there is generally chronic inflammation elsewhere in the body like the skin (eczema) or the sinuses (post nasal drip).

The point is that Sinusitis is not a condition in itself – it is a symptom and it is the body’s way of telling us that something is out of balance. The traditional way of treating sinusitis, namely antibiotics, only treat the symptom and do not address the underlying cause. If you have persistent sinusitis or post-nasal drip, your body is desperately trying to send out signals that something is not right. The constant state of inflammation in the sinuses further wears down the immune system and a vicious cycle thus ensues.

Remedies

Some natural supplements to take to help alleviate the symptoms on a daily basis are:

2 x 1000mg Olive leaf extract
• An antioxidant complex
• A multivitamin/mineral
• 2 x 1000mg Buffered Vitamin C
• 2 x 7, 400mg Vitamin A when infected
• 2 x 15mg Zinc
• 15 drops of Echinacea in water 3 x a day

Part of the Ayurvedic practice of the Panchakarma process is Nasya which is the introduction of Medicated substances into the Nose. This process helps dis-lodge Ama from the Mouth, Throat and Sinuses to help eliminate Kapha-related toxins from this area (read this month’s related article on Ayurveda: Abhyanga and Panchakarma).
The easiest way to achieve this at home is by the use of a Neti pot containing a mixture of distilled water and pure salt to clean out the sinuses. This goes a long way towards easing the discomfort. The neti pot also has the added benefit of washing out any bacteria that may inhabit the nasal passages and sinuses. This is however a bit more challenging if there is very thick mucus, but is a great way of preventing future attacks.

Other complementary practices that might offer relief are:

• Acupuncture – Points on the governor and the large and small intestine meridians are treated and on the spleen meridian where allergy is the cause.
•  Aromatherapy – Inhale a drop or two of pure eucalyptus and or peppermint essential oil, together with lavender, bergamot or lemon from a tissue for immediate effect.
•  Herbal Medicine – Steam inhalations with essential oils of eucalyptus, pine, lavender, camomile, cinnamon, thyme, peppermint or cypress may be beneficial. Garlic is recommended as a general prevention against sinus problems.
•  Homeopathy – When there is yellow, stringy catarrh and heavy congestion try Kali bich. 6. If the face is very sensitive and tender and the patient is chilly and irritable, try Hepar sulph. 6. If the area of pain keeps changing, the symptoms are worse when indoors, there is a tendency to weep, the nose is sometimes blocked and there is yellow catarrh, you should try Pulsatilla 6.
•  Reflexology – The areas related to the sinuses on the feet are massaged together with the upper lymph nodes, neck, upper spine and adrenal glands.

As with all physical ailments – please consult your health practitioner if your symptoms persist.

Article written by Laura McDermid