A condition I see a lot of this time of year along with colds and flu is sinus infection. These often follow a bout of cold or flu for many, others it is something that seems to happen regularly for them. Either way, sinus infections can be very painful and debilitating at worst, annoying at best. I am going to fill you in on some reasons why they occur as well as some easy natural ways to help give them the boot!
The main reason you get a sinus infection is down to a bacterial infection (secondary infection) due to a compromised immune system. Other reasons can be allergies both to airborne substances such as pet hair or pollens and food allergies. Another reason is exposure to irritants in your environment such as fungi, molds, chemicals etc which create a perpetuation of symptoms. These lead generally to a bacterial infection being established and this creates the dreaded yellow or green coloured discharge that is symptomatic of sinusitis.
Symptoms vary a little bit depending in which sinus area your infection is located but these are a general run down on some of them;
- Headaches – around the eyes, cheek bones, base of skull at the rear.
- Feeling of pressure in the head
- Watery Eyes
- Yellow or Green coloured discharge
- Bodily aches
- Mild fever
- Sore Throat
- Ear aches
- Swollen lymph nodes in the throat and/or neck regions
- Feeling of dizziness
* As you can see, many of these symptoms can also be symptoms of other conditions so ALWAYS have yourself checked by a health care professional to be sure of what you have. NEVER self diagnose.
Most of these you will be able to do yourself with ingredients available at home, some you may need to visit your health food store for.
- Steam Inhalations – Either using the good old towel over the head with a bowl of boiling water or a Netti Pot, include a couple of drops of Eucalyptus or tea Tree oil. These are both good antibacterials. The steam dilates the nasal passages and allows for easier expulsion of the mucus the oils penetrate and work on killing the bacteria. Don’t use too much cause it can irritate sensitive noses. It is this build up that allows the bacteria to bloom and proliferate Do this up to 3 times daily for around 10-15 minutes.
- Warm Compresses – Using a tea towel or wash cloth soaked in hot water (not too hot), lay this across your affected areas. It helps to increase blood flow and relieves the ache as well allows for the infection to aided by the increase in blood flow.
- Garlic, Echinacea, Horse Radish, Onions, Olive Leaf, Ginseng, Fenugreek – These herbs are highly beneficial to sinus infections as well as immunity in general. You will need to aid immunity and garlic, onions and Horse Radish particularly are expectorant in their actions meaning they will aid mucous flow. This may sound silly but you need to expel the infectious mucous from your nasal passages. Once the discharge goes clear, then you can relax those ones as this would indicate that it is being moved out effectively. The others are great immune boosters and aid in building better immunity generally.
- Vitamins, A, C, E, Antioxidants, Zinc - These nutrients are shown to significantly aid the immune system as well as in upper respiratory infections specifically.
- Fluids – Water and fresh, squeezed fruits and vegetable juices also aid a great deal and are a perfect way to gain much needed minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. DON”T use shop bought, “clear” fruits juices, they contain lots of fructose and other refined sugar which are useless and will feed the bacteria thus worsening your condition. Water is the great cleanser so cleanse!
What To Avoid
The following are a few things to avoid if you can.
- Sugary foods – No use to you on any level and will feed the bacterial infection.
- Fatty foods – Same reason as above.
- Alcohol – This just further inhibits your immune system so leave it out.
- Coffee/tea – Useless and will rob you of much needed hydration as it is diuretic.
- Over the counter medicines – These tend to mask symptoms and give a false sense of well being. These can allow for the bacterial infection to proliferate as they often dry up mucous flow which is needed in order to expel the bacteria.
- Anti-biotics – These are an ABSOLUTE last resort, if you have tried all else and are becoming more ill then you may have no choice. These will further deplete your immune system long term and further inhibit proper digestion thus not allowing needed nutrition to be available. They are hit and miss at best anyway.
Apart from these measures, you need to take a look around your environment and try to locate any possible source of irritation such as pet hair, molds in bathrooms or bedrooms, chemicals etc that could be causing the initial irritations. It is then a matter of removing them one by one until you fins the one that is setting you off. You can do the same for suspected food or drink sensitivities also. If this fails then arrange for an allergy test to find out exactly what you are sensitive too so that you can avoid it.
I hope these simple tips have helped you out and bring you some relief from your troublesome sinuses. Remember, if the problem worsens or fails to respond, seek further help and NEVER self diagnose, always leave that to a professional.
Until next time, be well!
Craig Hitchens – Natural Health Specialist.
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