Acute Sinusitis - Natural Treatments. It's time to breathe easier!

What is Sinusitis?

Sinusitis is an inflammation and/or infection of the nasal sinuses and nose (simple nasal inflammation is called Rhinitis). Such inflammation leads to decreased clearance of mucus from the nasal passages, which then causes the typical symptoms that include runny nose, stuffiness and congestion in the head/face (which may be painful/tender).

Causes of Acute Sinusitis

Sinusitis is a condition that often follows an Upper Respiratory Infection (usually caused by a virus) or Bacterial Infection. Some of the most common bacteria involved are: Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae & aureus, and Moraxella catarrhalis, though there are other bacterial agents. Acute sinusitis may also result from allergies (to environmental factors such as pollen or grass) or some autoimmune conditions.

Risk Factors associated with Acute Sinusitis

  • Factors that may predispose the development of sinusitis include:

  • Allergies (particularly environmental or pet)

  • Structural problems of the nasal passages (for example deviated septum or small sinus openings)

  • Smoking

  • Nasal polyps

  • Previous cases of acute sinusitis (due to ongoing inflammation of the airways)

  • Individuals who suffer from respiratory/upper respiratory tract diseases (for example infections, allergies, asthma, COPD, emphysema, etc.) are also at risk.

  • People with poor immune system, and those with Cystic Fibrosis or Kartagener's syndrome are at increased risk.

  • Other risk factors: cold air exposure, cigarette smoking/exposure to smoke, the use of decongestants and metal vapours.

Common Symptoms of Acute Sinusitis include:

  • Pain and tenderness of the forehead and sinuses.

  • Headache, sinus tenderness or toothache.

  • Inflammation and swelling of linings of the nose

  • Yellow-green secretions from the nose

  • Post-nasal drip

  • Fever

  • Cough

  • Sore Throat

  • Loss of Smell and possibly Taste

  • General sick feeling (Malaise)

How does a Naturopath treat Acute Sinusitis?

  • Your ND May prescribe (among other things):

  • Herbal Remedies as teas or tinctures (possibly including Eyebright, Licorice, Echinacea, Goldenseal, Ginger

  • Nasal lavage & Steam Inhalations (often with essential oils such as Eucalyptus)

  • Hydrotherapy

  • Myers Cocktails (IV vitamin therapy) or other Immune Boosting injections

  • Supplementation/Vitamins, for example Vitamin C, Zinc, b-Carotene (and others)

  • Acupuncture and possibly Chinese Herbal Treatments

  • Homeopathic Remedies

What you can do to treat Sinusitis at home

  • Nutrition:

  • When you are ill, due to sinusitis or any another respiratory disease, it’s a good idea to avoid mucus-producing foods such as bananas, dairy, citrus.

  • Increasing fluids (water, tea, hot soup) as well as fruits and vegetables is extremely beneficial.

  • It’s a good idea to decrease sugar consumption. Sugar hinders immune function, and that’s something you want working well – especially when you’re ill!

  • Keep warm: wear a scarf in the wind, and wear sweaters and warm socks so that you can sweat it out!

  • Take nice hot baths. Adding Epsom salts will help with any achiness and also help you sleep.

  • Get lots of rest and sleep – these are key to recovery, but often ignored.

Tips for preventing sinusitis and respiratory infections in general:

  • Maintaining a healthy, strong immune system is the first step in the prevention of developing infections and other diseases!

  • Stay fit by ensuring a regular exercise program (at least 30 minutes, 3 times/week or cardiovascular activity).

  • Eat a healthy, whole foods diet that includes a variety of fruit, vegetables, complex carbohydrates and protein.

  • Always stay well hydrated (water, green/herbal tea, juice). This helps flush your body of toxins.

  • Avoid pop, caffeine and sugary drinks as these can have opposing effects.

  • Get enough sleep!

  • We say it once, but it’s worth repeating (especially since so many people like to ignore this critical tip!). Life is so busy and hectic that most of us just don’t take the time - and we should!

  • Don’t smoke!

  • Besides being generally terrible for your health, smoking increases your risk of getting respiratory infections (including sinusitis). Also, avoid situations where there are people smoking as well as smog and pollution as much as possible.

  • Wash your hands! Bacteria and virus are spread by contact, so keeping your hands clean may help avoid getting sick in the first place as well as passing bugs onto others.

Keep well!

Dr Katarine Holewa ND

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