Sinus infection, or more properly known as sinusitis or rhinosinusitis, is the inflammation of sinuses resulting to a variety of symptoms. Most of the common signs include a clogged nose, thick nasal mucus, poor sense of smell, and cough. Sometimes, the condition could be worse and could result to fever, headache, and pain in the facial area.
There are different causes for sinusitis including allergies, air pollution, structural problems in the nasal cavities, and infection. In the United States alone, about 25 million people are diagnosed with sinusitis, and despite the reasons for it, sinusitis can impair the quality of life of a person.
Sinus Infection Signs and Symptoms
Both acute and chronic stages of sinus infection are usually characterized by headache, facial pain, and aching of the affected sinuses. The pain caused by sinusitis is often localized to the sinus involved, although it may worsen when the person suffering from it is lying or bending down. It’s very common for people to think they have sinusitis when what they actually have is migraine, because the latter can also cause pain in the same area that sinusitis does. However, you will know you have sinusitis when you display the following symptoms:
- Thick Nasal Discharge
- Nasal Obstruction
- Poor Sense of Smell
- Facial Pain That Worsens When Bending
- Swelling Around The Eyes
You will also know that you have a bad case of sinus infection when you start having a fever, a really bad headache, and a lot of pain in the facial area in addition to the symptoms mentioned above.
Causes and Risk Factors
Sinusitis is actually caused by several different factors. Acute sinusitis, for instance, may be a result of an upper respiratory tract infection, generally caused by the flu virus, as well as coronaviruses and rhinoviruses. It can also be caused by a fungal invasion, which is commonly observed among patients suffering from diabetes. When the infection extends up to three months, sinusitis can be categorized as chronic, in which case it could also either be a case with polyps or a case without polyps. In the case of the former, the usually cause often include environmental factors, fungus, bacterial infection, and allergy. In terms of risk factors, you may be at a higher risk of acquiring sinusitis if you have the following:
- Hay Fever
- Nasal Polyps
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Dental Infection
Young children, elderly people, and people suffering from asthma or allergies also have an increased risk for having sinusitis.
Natural Ways To Treat Sinusitis
In terms of treatment, taking enough rest and drinking lots of water are usually what doctors recommend. In addition, decongestant nasal sprays that contain oxymetazoline may also be used. If it results to fever, antibiotics may be recommended. And, in worse cases, surgery may be necessary.
The good news is that there are natural ways you can use to treat sinusitis if you have one. The better news is that most of these treatments can actually be found in your home, particularly your pantry. Yes, we’re talking about food! While there is no known food that can cure sinusitis, there are certain types of food you can eat that could greatly help in alleviating your symptoms. Most of these foods can aid in decreasing the amount of mucus in the sinuses, reduce nasal congestion, and help drain phlegm a lot better.
Aside from food, there are other natural remedies that can help with the symptoms such as a steam bath and salt water rinse. Let’s take a look at some of these natural treatments and what they can do.
There is no question about the healing wonders of water. It helps keep the body relax, and the only way the body can heal itself is when it is in a relaxed state. In terms of treating sinusitis, drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated helps the nasal passages function at their peak. This allows mucus to flow smoothly, as well as discourage bacterial growth that usually leads to infection. In addition to that, staying fully hydrated allows your white blood cells to function more efficiently, enabling your immune system to fight off infection with ease.
Rinse With Salt Water
An excellent substitute for decongestant medicine is a saline solution. This may help alleviate your symptoms for a short period by removing mucus from your nasal passages, reducing postnasal drip, and reducing stuffiness. You can purchase a nasal spray anytime, but you can also make your own solution at home. It’s easy and it’s free! Just mix ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of distilled water and you now have your very own homemade saline solution. You can then use an all-rubber syringe to squirt the solution. Use 1 to 3 sprays for each nasal passage 3 to 4 times a day or as often as needed.
Activate Pressure Points
One of the quickest ways to relieve you of symptoms of sinusitis is steam inhalation. This can help break up thick mucus. You can go with plain hot water, but adding a few drops of peppermint of eucalyptus oil in the water would be best. You can do this by inhaling steam from a bowl of hot water while draping a towel over your back. Taking a hot bath will give you the same results, too!
Eat Spicy Dishes
You are probably well area that eating spicy food causes your eyes to water and your nose to run. That’s due to their mucokinetic property. Chili peppers, horseradish, black pepper, and garlic, all have mucous-thinning properties that, when eaten, can help decongest your nasal passages.
Garlic, for instance, contains n-allyl thiosulfinate, an active ingredient that acts as a temporary decongestant. Hot peppers also contain capsaicin, which is often used as an ingredient for certain nasal spray products.
Ginger is also excellent for symptoms of sinusitis as it contains natural antihistamines, as well as anti-inflammatory properties that help speed up healing and reduce pain.
Apple Cider Vinegar is another type of food you can use for sinusitis. It has natural antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties that can get rid of microorganisms that usually cause sinus infection. It also helps break up mucus by maintaining the body’s alkaline pH level.
Turmeric which is related to ginger, can also aid in reducing symptoms. It delivers many of the same benefits that ginger does. When combined with a little heat, it can easily clear your sinuses and heal them at the same time.
Other types of food you should include in your diet are those that are rich in vitamin A, because they are known to help build healthy mucus membranes. Some of the most valuable sources of vitamin A include milk, egg yolk, pumpkin, carrot, papaya, mango, curds, tomato, and of course, almost all green and leafy vegetables.
Now, if there are foods that are good for sinusitis, there are definitely foods that you should avoid as they can worsen your problem with sinusitis. Let’s give you a breakdown.
Foods To Avoid If You Have Sinusitis
It may seem that fruit juice is a healthy option if you have sinusitis, but in reality, fruit juices have a very high concentration of carbohydrates, as well as preservatives. You should opt for whole fruits instead.
Caffeine has been found to weaken the adrenal glands and also acts as a mild diuretic. This means it can increase the amount of water that you body excretes. Since water is essential for providing moisture to the mucus membranes, it is not advised that you consume caffeine if you have sinusitis.
Dairy products such as milk are usually blamed for the excess production of mucus in the sinuses. The truth is that dairy does not increase sinus drainage. If your sinusitis worsens after consuming milk or other dairy products, there’s a chance that you are allergic to milk. If you’re worried about calcium, you can go for seaweed and green leafy vegetables instead, since they are better sources of calcium.
Health professionals believe that sugar has a detrimental effect on the human body. In fact, sinusitis may be a possible effect of high amounts of sugar on the sinuses. This probably has to do with the fact that fungal yeast feeds on sugar, which in turn can lead to inflammation and swelling. Cutting down on your sugar intake is an effective way to fight sinusitis.
Fermented food can be flavorful and very tempting to consume. However, some fermented foods such as mayonnaise can cause the body’s Ph level to be imbalanced. Others such as cheese, wine, beer, and sour kraut can lead to excess mucus production. This means they are to be avoided if you are suffering from sinus infection.
There is not a single way to approach sinusitis, but the good news is that it can be managed. The key is to find out what causes it. Sometimes, your sinus infection can be caused by an allergy, which means simple decongestants won’t be enough to deal with it. Another good news is that sinus infection can be treated at home and without you having to spend lots of mone, unless, of course, you have chronic sinusitis that needs surgery. Moreover, if your symptoms extend from three days to a week, you better visit your doctor for an examination right away. Your doctor may advise you to approach sinusitis with a combination of treatments — typically medication plus home remedies.