The sinuses are hollow bones, as narrow as a pencil lead, in the bony structure of the head. They are lined with mucous membranes, like the rest of the respiratory system. Sinusitis is sometimes referred to as 'asthma of the nose'. Indeed, many asthmatics also suffer sinusitis and the mechanisms of the conditions are similar. (See Asthma.) In response to a trigger such as an allergy or a head cold, nasal and sinus mucous membranes can become swollen and secrete mucus.
This is what causes the pain of sinusitis; since the sinus cavities are tiny, any build-up is bound to increase pressure.
The main symptom of sinus is a headache (usually painful, often throbbing) behind or above the eyes. Sinus headaches are worse when you bend forward. Other symptoms include eyestrain and eye pain; a congested honker; tenderness, swelling and puffiness... especially under the eyes; bad breath and a post-nasal drip (mucus dripping down the back of the throat).
- Allergy is the most common cause. (See Hayfever.)
- A mechanical problem in the nose, such as a deviated septum, is possible. If so, surgery may be necessary. An ear, nose and throat specialist will be your guide in this case.
- Some people are born with extra-narrow sinuses that clog easily when an allergy or cold occurs.
What To Do
- Avoid milk products and sugar to decrease mucus production.
- Avoid any known food allergy, paying particular attention to milk, wheat, wine, beer and tartrazine. (See Food Allergy.)
- Avoid alcohol as it swells mucous membranes.
- Drink at least three litres of clear fluids daily. Liquid, particularly if warm and clear, stops mucus from becoming too thick, which is when it tends to become infected.
- Include garlic, onions, horseradish, chilli, ginger, fenugreek, wasabi and nasturtiums in your diet.
Herbs and Supplements
- (See Sniffle)
- Take one or a few of these herbs twice daily as a tea: echinacea, golden seal, myrrh, elder, euphrasia, goldenrod and fenugreek.
- SNIFFLE, the Beaming with Health herbal tisane contains echinacea helpful for building your immune system and becoming a little more resistant to sinusitis.
- Take 1 g of vitamin C every 2-3 hours. Vitamin C will stem an infection and is an effective natural antihistamine.
- If you are sinus-prone, take horseradish and garlic tablets throughout the year.
- If your sinuses are congested, have an inhalation before bed. Put a spoonful of Vicks Vapour Rub in the bottom of a bowl and pour boiling water over it.
- For immediate relief, wring out a hot wet cloth, and place it over your nose and forehead.
- If you are having problems breathing at night, place a vaporiser in your bedroom.
- Use a Neti pot each morning (unless you have very green, infected mucus). A Neti pot looks like a small-spouted, stunted teapot, and is used for an intra-nasal douche. Neti pots may be available from health food shops or clinics that stock Ayurvedic medicines or ashrams. Any small clean teapot may be used in the absence of an authentic Neti pot.
- If you suffer from hayfever as well, go to an allergy specialist who will desensitise you to whatever you are allergic to.
At a glance
- Good food
- Hot clear fluids, ginger, chilli, garlic, horseradish, fenugreek, wasabi.
- Food to avoid
- Milk products, sugar, alcohol.
- Remedies to begin
- Neti pot, vitamin C, echinacea, golden seal, horseradish and garlic.
- Desensitise to allergens, retention breathing.
- There is a need to release pent up negative emotions.