Just when you thought we'd finished talking about winter bugs...
Posted on 27th September 2017 at 07:30
Having focussed on Colds recently – not only what to do if the worst happens, but how to avoid them in the first place (!) – we weren’t expecting to continue on a similar theme this week. However, with a number of clients having come in with Sinusitis over the last couple of weeks, it seemed like one more blog post was needed on this topic before we move on to other things.
As an aside, we should say that it’s very unusual to see clients with Sinusitis following a Cold so early in the season. In our experience we don’t expect to see it until the weather becomes much colder and damper. Although, having said that, the very changeable weather this summer may well be the reason for this.
Anyway, before we digress any further, let’s start with the basics.
What exactly are the sinuses and where are they located?
The sinuses – or Paranasal Sinuses, if you want to be technical (!) – are tiny air filled passages found in the front of the face. In the forehead, around the eyes, in the cheeks and behind the nose. Together with the Nose, nasal passages, Pharynx (Throat) and Larynx (Voicebox) they form the Upper Respiratory Tract.
Like all the rest of the Respiratory System, the sinuses are lined with a very thin mucous membrane, which produces a mucous to protect and moisturise the inside of these passages.
What do they do?
Well, much more than you’d expect. To start with they help make the Skull much lighter and so easier to support on the neck. They also affect the resonance of the voice. More importantly, they help to warm and moisturise the air we breathe in through the Nose on its way down to the Lungs. At the same time it also helps trap any dust, dirt and micro organisms suspended in the air, so preventing them from reaching the Lungs.
What causes Sinusitis?
Again, there are more causes of Sinusitis than just a Cold; although this is what we’re focusing on today. These include air borne pollution, allergies – such as Asthma and Hayfever - and nasal polyps.
Regardless of the cause, the end result is the same. The mucous membranes become inflamed, while at the same time also producing more mucus, so blocking the sinuses. With the sinuses being so small it’s not surprising that this causes the classic symptoms of:
• Pain and tenderness around the Eyes, Nose and across the Forehead. Sometimes this can spread to the Teeth as well.
• A sinus headache across the Forehead and round the Eyes.
• A blocked Nose with thick catarrh – snot (!) – which is often yellow or green. Not surprisingly, people then breathe through their mouth leading to a dry Mouth and sore Throat.
• And perhaps a temperature too.
Acute Sinusitis usually clears in a few days but can last several weeks. If it lasts longer than three months it’s then classified as Chronic Sinusitis.
What can be done to help?
The conventional approach to Sinusitis includes paracetamol / ibuprofen for pain relief and nasal decongestants; with antibiotics and steroids for longer term cases.
However, there are lots of things you can do at home to help yourself.
We’ve already mentioned Vitamin C – at least 1,000mg a day – in our previous posts, but it really does provide excellent support for the Immune System, as does Echinacea. Both are easy to take and can also be taken on an ongoing basis as a preventative measure.
Our favourite piece of advice also applies. In other words make sure you’re drinking plenty of hot – or at least room temperature – water to help get things moving (!).
Our favourite soothing drink has to be pineapple juice diluted 50 / 50 with newly boiled water. Even better, it also contains high levels of Vitamin C plus an enzyme called bromelain to help break down the mucous and catarrh.
And while we’re talking about water, keep your diet light. Yes, we know it’s easy to reach for all those naughty comfort foods, but they’ll only make things worse. Avoiding fatty and sugary foods will make a real difference and there are plenty of other soothing foods you can have instead. What about good old fashioned homemade soup for a start?
Steaming is another easy way to help open up the sinuses and get things moving. Again, we’ve covered this is the other blog posts and it does work. Adding rosemary, eucalyptus or lavender essential oils to the water will also help to soothe the inflamed mucous membranes. Just remember not to then go straight outside and get cold, as this will undo all the good work. Using a warm compress across your face will have a similar effect and is very soothing too.
A humidifier in the bedroom at night can also help to keep things moving. Or a bowl of water on the side will do much the same job. Similarly, having one in the room you spend most of your time in during the day will help too. And don’t forget to keep the window open a little too. The worst thing you can do is shut yourself away in a room without any windows open and the heating on nuclear setting (!).
And finally don’t forget that Homeopathy, Craniosacral Therapy and Acupuncture can all help speed things along as well.
As always, the choice is yours.
P.S. Fingers crossed, this is the last blog post on any Colds related topic for the time being. Having said that, our clients may have other ideas!
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