Sinusitis is an inflammation of the nasal sinuses. There are sinuses located above the eyes (frontal sinuses); to either side of the nose, inside the cheekbones, and behind the bridge of the nose. Sinuses are air-filled pockets in the skull that are connected to the nose and the throat by passages designed to drain away mucous. If the sinuses are too small or clogged to handle the volume of mucous produced, pressure increases, causing pain and inviting infection.
Since the 1980s, chronic sinusitis (persistent inflammation and/or infection of the sinuses, lasting longer than 8-12 weeks) has been the most common respiratory condition in the United States, with more than 38 million sufferers.
Similar to the common cold: mucous turns yellowish green; postnasal drip; cough; sore throat; pressure; headache; fever; fatigue; bad breath; malaise; decreased smell. Acute sinusitis is frequently a complication of a viral upper respiratory infection such as a common cold. In most cases it will clear up in 5-7 days. The therapeutic goal is to clear the upper respiratory infection and re-establish proper sinus drainage. Frequently, antibiotics are prescribed by physicians for sinusitis which may arise from a bacterial infection. However, this practice is being scrutinized because many cases are viral or fungus–and these problems do not respond to antibiotics.
There are many risk factors and causes of chronic sinusitis. The most common factors include: the common cold, cigarette smoking, air pollution, food allergies (dairy and wheat are the most common), irritant allergens (pollen, animal dander, mold), occupational and environmental pollutants. Some lesser causes include having a depressed immunity, dental problems, dry air, polyps, emotional stress, repeated antibiotic use, chronic yeast, and gastrointestinal reflux diseases (GERD). Acute sinusitis is most frequently a complication of a viral and/or bacterial upper respiratory infection, or a common cold. The therapeutic goal is to reestablish proper sinus drainage. Most doctors prescribe antibiotics, however, this practice is being scrutinized because frequently the infection is viral and therefore does not respond to antibiotic therapy. A better strategy is to boost the immune system, decrease mucous-producing foods, exercise and take the appropriate supplements.
- Decongestants may relieve congestion and stuffiness, but side effects include insomnia, jitteriness, increased blood pressure and heart rate. Limit use to 3-5 days
- Antibiotics help to fight bacterial infections, but can lead to yeast buildup. Antibiotics kill the natural flora in the nasal passages. Overuse can trigger antibiotic-resistance and, if the infection is viral in nature, antibiotics can actually slow the recovery by impairing immune function.
- Antihistamines can relieve post-nasal drip and rhinitis symptoms, but can cause drowsiness and can thicken mucous, making it harder to expel.
Dietary aspects play a leading role in the ongoing treatment of sinus infections, especially if they are not seasonal, but occur any time of the year. Food allergies may be a key offender. The patient should decrease their intake of mucous-producing foods. These include milk and dairy products, eggs, meat, sugar, alcohol, spicy foods, peanuts, and some citrus fruits. Food allergies are the most common cause of sinusitis and the most common foods that cause allergies are dairy products and wheat. If food allergies are suspected utilize the ELIMINATION DIET, i.e. refrain from eating specific types of foods for several weeks, one at a time, and note the outcome. Other foods that can trigger allergic symptoms are chocolate, corn, soy, and yeast.
Certain foods can thin your mucous and help it move. Eat plenty of garlic, onions and horseradish and use spices like cayenne. Drink a lot of water. Use of air filters to clean the air, eliminate dust, pollens, rug cleaners, animal dander and microbes is very helpful.
- VITAMIN C with BIOFLAVONOIDS (QUERCETIN)
Vitamin C enhances many aspects of immune function and reduces the duration and severity of respiratory infections. Also the combination helps to shrink sinus membrane swelling. QUERCETIN protects against allergens and increases immunity. It will enhance the effects of vitamin C. BROMELAIN, an enzyme from pineapples, has been shown to be helpful in the treatment of acute sinusitis. (87% in most cases). Dosage: 500-4000 mg a day, depending on symptoms.
- BERBERINE-CONTAINING HERBS (OREGON GRAPE, GOLDENSEAL and BARBERRY)
These herbs support the immune function and have anti-microbial and work effectively against bacterial sinusitis. Dosage: In tincture form: 30 drops every 2-3 hours. Oral: 400mg 3 times a day for 7-10 day limit.
Oregano is a potent herb with antibiotic as well as anti-viral activity that can lessen and thin mucous. Dosage: As directed on package.
- METHYLSULFONYLMETHANE (MSM)
- OTHER HERBS such as ASTRAGALUS, GRAPEFRUIT SEED EXTRACT and GARLIC
These are natural herbs with mild anti-infective and antibiotic activity. They are especially effective when fungal-induced sinusitis is suspected. Dosage: As directed.
- COLLOIDAL SILVER
Colloidal silver is a natural antibiotic that can be used acutely for an active sinus infection. Colloidal silver can be added to a nasal douche or placed under the tongue. Dosage: As directed on label.
- MEDICAL MUSHROOMS
Mushroom species such as Reishi and Shiitake have been useful in treating the symptoms of sinusitis and rhinitis. Dosage: As directed by a qualified practitioner.
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