Sinusitis is an acute or chronic inflammation of the sinuses. Acute sinusitis is characterized by a sudden onset of symptoms that respond well to antibiotics and decongestants. On the other hand, chronic sinusitis is characterized by at least four recurrences of sinusitis that lasts 12 weeks or longer.
The sinuses are made of four air cavities in the skull that lie behind your cheekbones and forehead behind the eyes. They function to warm, moisten and filter the air we breathe. The sinuses are lined with a moisture-producing mucus membrane. Like the nasal passages, which also are lined with a mucus membrane, when infected or inflamed the mucus membranes swell and generate mucus. Air trapped within an obstructed sinus, along with pus or other secretions, may cause pressure on the sinus wall. The result is the sometimes intense pain of a sinus attack. Symptoms of sinusitis can include localized pain or tenderness of the sinuses, headaches, pain in the upper jaw, facial swelling nasal congestion and occasionally a fever.
When we experience sinusitis due to an infection, it is usually due to a cold. The key distinction between a cold and sinusitis is that the symptoms of a cold usually begin to improve within five to seven days. The symptoms of sinusitis, however, may last longer and worsen with time. Any factor that causes the mucous membrane to become inflamed may also lead to sinusitis. Allergies, fungus, smoke, strong chemical odors and other environmental triggers also can irritate the mucus membrane of the sinuses and cause inflammation. Structural problem such as tumors, polyps and a deviated septum can also contribute to the occurrence of sinusitis.
Thankfully, there are a number of natural and alternative health remedies that you can try to help relieve a sinus infection.
Recommendations for wellness
- Drink plenty of fluids to help promote sinus drainage. Hot herbal teas are a great source of fluids and the heat of steam of the hot tea can improve the draining effect.
- Inhale the steam from a hot bath, shower or even steam room. Use a humidifier or a draped pot of hot water to help thin mucus. Try adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil to enhance this experience.
- At work or if you are in a pinch, try placing a warm moist washcloth or hot compress on your face to help reduce sinus pain and pressure.
- Irrigate your nasal passages with salt water using a neti pot, a spray bottle or ear syringe. This works to wash away any discharge that may be infected.
- If allergies or environmental triggers bring on your sinusitis, work on reducing your exposure to these offending environments.
- If you are exposed to environmental toxins, supplement with antioxidants (vitamin A, C, E and selenium), such as those found in Defense Maintenance or super Antioxidant. Antioxidants may protect the body against free radical damage and can help reduce the risk of developing chronic sinusitis.
- Together, fenugreek and thyme can be used to relieve congestion, reduce inflammation and help fight off infection.
- Vitamin C has been shown to decrease the duration and severity of a cold, thus helping reduce your risk of contracting sinusitis.
- Echinacea or garlic can be taken to help boost the body’s immune system and help fight off infection.
- Zinc can also help boost the immune system and reduce your body’s inflammatory response.
For any pain you may be experiencing take white willow bark. White willow bark is often referred to as the "Aspirin Pain Substitute."
A homeopathic sinus remedy may help provide temporary relief from sinus problems.