Dealing with sinus issues

What is a sinus problem?

A sinus problem (called sinusitis) is inflammation of the lining of the nasal cavity. Sinusitis symptoms are our body telling us something is up – and a warning sign that it needs attention. In some cases, a sinus issue is like the straw that breaks the camel’s back, especially if the immune system is struggling to cope with underlying issues.

What causes sinusitis?

Sinusitis occurs as a result of toxin build-up which pushes the body out of its natural balance and compromises its immunity, thereby making it vulnerable. A number of things can be the resultant trigger of a sinusitis attack and often it can be a number of triggers combined. The summer season can make sinusitis worse because of increased environmental triggers (i.e. pollen) that put more load on an already overloaded body.

1. Micro-organisms
The most common trigger is a virus. Less common but still a culprit is a particular bacterium or even a fungus. The latter can have serious consequences but the chances of fungal infection are relatively low compared to a viral infection.

2. Nasal Polyps
Sometimes nasal polyps (growths) can be the cause of sinusitis and these are often linked to a food allergy. Although nasal polyps can be removed, they will grow back again if the root cause hasn’t been addressed. Their presence can make sinusitis attacks more prevalent but they themselves are a consequence of toxin build-up and not the root cause.

3. Allergies
Another source of sinusitis can be sensitivity to compounds in our foods such as oxalates and salicylates. Salicylates, for example, are found in pain killers such as aspirin and ibuprofen and also in many foods including a number of spices, some leafy green vegetables and stoned fruits. Other sensitivities include gluten or dairy foods.

4. Dental work
Sometimes sinus issues (like migraines) can stem from our teeth; a root canal that remains infected may lead to sinus issues.

5. Emotional Disturbances
At an emotional level, the cause could be as simple (and strange) as someone ‘getting up our nose’. Remember that toxic build-up can be caused by external triggers as well as internal ones! Long-term emotional toxin build-up in this context can lead to depressive states of mind.

6. High levels of Estrogen / Green energy
Sinusitis tends to be more problematic for Green body types and green energy imbalances since excesses lead to increased tissue growth. This can be anywhere in the body, not just in the nasal cavity. The modern equivalent is an elevated level of the estrogen hormone which can increase tissue growth. Interestingly, women actually tend to suffer more from sinusitis than men.

7. Stress
Stress compromises our ‘innate’ immune system and suppresses it, depleting our natural resources to deal with infections. As our innate immune system takes a hit, our ‘acquired’ immune system goes into overdrive, producing more antibodies and histamine. This results in more allergies as the body goes into being hyper-alert to protect itself.

What are the typical symptoms of sinusitis?

Typical tell-tale signs of sinusitis include:

  • Pain or swelling or tenderness in the cheeks, around the eyes, forehead
  • A blocked nose
  • Loss of smell
  • Mucous congestion
  • Headache
  • Toothache
  • Bad breath

These are manifestations of toxins accumulating at a local level. Acute sinusitis can be debilitating so it’s best to deal with it before it gets to that stage.

Do antibiotics or sinus pills work?

A streaming nose is the body trying to deal with an issue – an elimination of toxins (like a bath of bad stuff overflowing). It’s a necessary defence mechanism. Preventing that process can result in toxins being stored internally. Antibiotics and off-the-shelf drugs will dry up the mucous and relieve the congestion, but this can be a temporary fix that actually makes matters worse, long-term.

Medicine alternatives for sinusitis

There are a number of practical self-care steps you can take to resolve a sinus infection.

1. De-stress
Stress causes dehydration which impacts cellular function. Histamine regulates water balance in the body. If we are dehydrated, histamine levels will increase.

2. Drink more water
Drinking more water helps with efficient cellular function (note it should be room temperature and not cold as cold water reduces the digestive efficiency which is required to boost the immune system)

3. Avoid dehydrating foods and drinks
Foods that deplete the body’s water are counter-productive in this situation and so anything that is a diuretic should be avoided (e.g. alcohol, coffee, tea, sugar)

4. Avoid sugar, gluten and dairy foods, especially in the summer
These foods are likely to add to the burden your body is already under in fighting the sinus infection. Check your cravings because when you are out of balance, the things you crave are likely to be the foods that are stressing your body internally. For example, you may crave sugary foods because your body needs a boost in blood sugar levels to give you an energy boost

5. Adding more fresh fruit and vegetables
These foods can help to alkalise the body and bring the water into the cells in the best way.
Lightly cooking these foods won’t overburden the digestive system and thereby avoid increasing the load on the body.

6. Increase vitamin C intake
Vitamin C is a natural anti-histamine and so will play a part in managing the histamine spike likely
caused by bodily stress from diuretics, food sensitivities and stress itself.

7. Neti-pot
These devices are designed to help flush out the nasal cavity and ease nasal congestion. To use one, you must follow the appropriate guidelines to ensure you are using them safely and seek advice if you are not sure.

As you can see, there’s more to sinusitis than meets the eye. If your sinusitis issues persist despite taking these steps or if you have long-standing sinus issues that are getting worse as you get older, you may benefit from speaking with a qualified expert to get to the root cause of the issue. Specific food sensitivity testing may also be helpful as a part of that.

More information:
Salicylate sensitivity and nasal polyps
Women are more susceptible to sinus issues than men

This self-care health hack is from Superfied expert nutritionist Mary Sharma

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