Did you know that a typical case of cold or flu and sinus infection usually disappears in about a week? Chronic sinusitis, however, may last for months or even years if not treated properly. Over 39 million Americans every year are plagued by sinusitis or sinus infections. (link)
Sinusitis usually occurs when your sinuses and mucous membranes are irritated by a cold, allergy, or pollution. In effect, they become inflamed and the movement of your cilia – the tiny hairs that coat the mucous membranes and are responsible for moving mucus over their surfaces – is disrupted. Your mucous glands then secrete more mucus to dilute germs. The mucus soon accumulates in your sinuses, which may lead to infection.
The most common symptoms of chronic sinus infection are:
- Nasal congestion
- Pressure around the eyes, cheeks, and forehead
- Thick, green- or yellow-colored mucus
- Postnasal drip or excess mucus dripping down at the back of your throat
- Symptoms that last more than 10 days
Antibiotics are the most common treatment option for sinusitis, but these actually do nothing to address the problem. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, chronic sinusitis is frequently misdiagnosed. While many believe that that sinusitis is bacteria-induced, there may be another culprit involved.
Are You Really Suffering from Chronic Sinusitis?
Many are led to believe that antibiotics are the solution to many ailments. Unfortunately, they only bring relief to certain symptoms. Long-term antibiotic use can lead to complications that may be difficult to treat, including chronic yeast infections and disrupted immune function.
One reason why there is a large chance that antibiotics will not help but worsen your infection, according to Dr. Mercola, is that sinus infections are often misdiagnosed. Instead of being caused by bacteria, the majority of chronic sinusitis cases are actually caused by mold or fungi.
A study done by the Mayo Clinic back in the 1990s suggests that most chronic sinusitis occurrences are due to fungi, but oftentimes doctors conclude that these are bacteria-induced, which will later on be treated with antibiotics. (link) Sadly, not many physicians are aware of this finding.
Furthermore, the Mayo Clinic study also suggests that 96 percent of individuals who have chronic sinusitis are “fungal sensitized,” or have immune reactions triggered by inhaled fungi. Taking antibiotics may only aggravate these fungal-related infections by creating an environment for further fungal growth.
Dr. Mercola advises people with chronic sinusitis to approach it from the perspective of a fungal infection before concluding a bacterial problem. To educate yourself regarding this matter, you may check the Mayo Clinic study (referenced above), and the book, Mold: The War Within. (link)
You may also check Dr. Mercola’s article on how to address sinus infections caused by mold and fungi exposure, “Why Almost All Sinus Infections are Misdiagnosed and Mistreated.”
Take Note of These Drug-Free Treatments for Sinusitis
Dr. Mercola explains that there is no need for antibiotics or OTC drugs when treating sinusitis and its symptoms. As mentioned before, chronic sinusitis can only be treated if you investigate its cause.
You can get over an acute case of it by taking natural steps to keep your cilia in optimal state, which will prevent the buildup of mucus in your sinuses.
- Drinking hot liquids will help moisturize your mucous membranes. This will speed up the movement of your cilia, helping wash mucus out of your sinuses faster. Dr. Mercola suggests tea or hot chicken soup for this.
- For three times a day for five minutes, apply a warm compress to your face, specifically below your eyes. You may also substitute a compress with a small towel soaked in warm water. This helps increase the circulation in your sinuses and contributes to the movement of your cilia.
- Use saline irrigation to cleanse your sinuses. Saline irrigation was found to be more effective than saline sprays by a study from the University of Michigan Health System. (link) This procedure will help reduce swelling in your nasal passages by thinning mucus. It will also rid your nose of unwanted substances (bacteria and allergens), which make it difficult to breath.Dr. Mercola says that you can create your own saline solution by adding one teaspoon of Himalayan salt to one pint of distilled water. Avoid saline solutions with benzalkonium, as they can impair your nasal function.
- Use an aromatherapy steam bath to clear your sinuses. This can help open up congested nasal passages and sinuses. Put a couple of drops of eucalyptus or menthol aromatherapy oil into a bowl of hot water, then inhale the vapors. You may also try dabbing some Vick’s VapoRub on the skin underneath your nose.
- Eating the right foods can unclog your sinuses. Ideal foods to munch on are horseradish, grated on top of a sandwich, as well as Japanese wasabi mustard.
- Elevate your head when you sleep.
- Make time to dust your bedroom, as dust and dust mites can affect your mucous membranes, especially when you’re asleep and your cilia are at rest. Make sure you use a HEPA air purifier to keep allergens at bay.
As for prevention, Dr. Mercola says that poor food quality, excessive exposure to toxic chemicals, and a stressful lifestyle will raise your chances of contracting not only a sinus infection but also all sorts of diseases. One of the most effective ways to combat this is having a robust immune system. Another is to create an environment where bacteria and fungi will be unable to proliferate.