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April 20, 2018  |  Login
 
Sinusitis
 
by James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D.

The sinuses are cavities in the bones around the nose, the cheeks, and the eyes. These cavities are lined with membranes that produce mucus, and when the sinuses are functioning normally, this mucus serves a protective purpose: It warms and moistens incoming air and filters it for germs. When sinuses can't drain properly, however, the mucus accumulates and becomes stagnant, making the area ripe for infection.

Sinusitis, which is the name for an infection of the sinus cavities, can be quite unpleasant and often painful. The mucus build-up leads to clogged nasal passages, thick drainage, and a general feeling of weariness and discomfort. The swollen membranes feel even worse, because they can fill up the tiny sinus cavities and press against the bones of the face. If you are unsure whether your head congestion is sinusitis, bend forward from the waist. If you feel heavy pressure or pain against your cheekbones or your eyes, you probably have sinusitis.

Sinusitis may be either acute or chronic. Acute sinusitis is usually caused by a ­ complication from another respiratory infection, such as a cold, the flu, or bronchitis. Any of these infections can lead to blocked drainage, which in turn causes sinusitis. If the sinus membranes don't have a chance to heal fully, an acute case can easily turn into a chronic one.

Recurring colds and flus-warning signs of a suppressed immune system-may lead to chronic sinusitis, as can other factors that consistently cause an obstruction of the sinus cavities. Repeated exposure to environmental allergens and irritants, such as mold spores or tobacco, is a common cause, as are food allergies or a diet that's high in mucus-forming foods.

Research has shown that chronic sinusitis is most often related to an immune response to a fungal infection in the sinus cavity. This research was first released in 1999 by a Mayo Clinic study, and the results have since been duplicated in subsequent studies. Natural practitioners often treat people who have chronic sinusitis for a systemic fungal infection, and this condition is helped by such an approach.

Sinusitis is an all-too-familiar ailment, but it can often be treated and prevented with simple home care and immune-boosting strategies. If your symptoms don't disappear within a few weeks, however, or if you have intense sinus pain, consult your doctor. In severe and prolonged cases, sinusitis can lead to serious diseases like pneumonia or even meningitis.

 
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