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Sinusitis

 

Sinusitis is an infection or inflammation of the sinuses, which are the open spaces in the bones of the skull and face. Often causing pain in the area and related headaches.

 

Symptoms

The bones of the skull contain four sets of sinuses, but the ones most commonly affected are above the eyes and to either side of the nose. Symptoms experienced may include:

  • Blocked nose
  • Thick discharge
  • Pain and tenderness in the affected part
  • Redness and swelling of the area
  • Headache (the term "pressure headache" may be used)
  • Post-nasal drip (particularly in the presence of a chronic low-grade infection), with an unproductive cough
  • Mucous may have a musty or foul smell and is commonly yellow-green in color
  • Toothache
  • Fever or chill may be present

 

Causes

The sinuses or nasal passages are usually hollow and contain light mucous, which is produced by the body to trap dirt and foreign matter in the air we breathe. The contaminated mucous is pushed out through tiny openings that serve as drains. These openings, known as ostia, are very small and are mostly at the bottom of the cavities where mucous can drain out easily. However there are a few cavities with the openings at the top, which makes draining mucous more difficult.

Anything that causes the mucous membranes lining the sinuses to swell may lead to infection by obstructing the body's method of draining foreign matter out of the body.

Irritation of the sinuses also causes an increased production of mucous, resulting in a feeling of internal pressure, and the area becoming tender and sore to touch.

The most common cause of sinusitis is upper respiratory infection such as the common cold, however other causative factors include: hay fever, food allergy, and tooth infection.

 

Natural Therapies

  • The herbs Horseradish, Garlic and Fenugreek help to dry up mucous and relieve pressure of sinusitis, regardless of the cause
  • Vitamin C and the herb Echinacea are supportive to the immune system and may help to treat or prevent sinus infection

Improved drainage and quick control of any infection present are the aims of therapy. Your healthcare professional may prescribe anti-inflammatory supplements, and to help dry up mucous a short-term course of salt-based nasal drops or spray.

Steam inhalation or the use of a humidifier is often recommended, which effectively constricts the blood vessels of the nose, allowing the spaces in the sinuses to open up, and promoting drainage.

 

Lifestyle Factors

Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, particularly those rich in vitamin C and bioflavonoids such as citrus, capsicum and pineapple. At the same time avoid mucous-producing foods such as dairy products.

Increase your intake of fluids - filtered water, vegetable and fruit juices, soups and herbal teas.

Cigarette smoke may be contributing to your sinus problem. If you must smoke, consider taking a vitamin C supplement to reduce the effects of the smoke on your immune system.

If you are taking antibiotics for a sinus infection, a probiotic supplement containing Acidophilus and Bifidus is advised to restore healthy bowel flora.

Steam is great for sinus problems - fill up your bathroom sink with hot water, bend over it with a towel over your head to keep the steam in and breathe. Be careful not to burn your face by putting your head too close to the water, or using water that is too hot to tolerate.

 

Remedy

Sleep in a well-ventilated room that is clean and free of potential allergens such as pet hair, dust mites and feathers. Special low-allergy bedding and cleaning products may need to be used.

Avoid foods you are allergic to. Keeping a food and symptom diary is one way to pinpoint which foods are aggravating or triggering your condition - observe patterns that occur over several weeks and remember that reactions may take up to 48 hours to occur

 

Important Notes

See your healthcare professional if the condition is associated with severe pain or smelly mucous - you may have an underlying infection.

It is also important to consult with your healthcare professional if symptoms persist for longer than seven days, or recur frequently.

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