Western North Carolina is a breeding ground for sinus infections, or sinusitis. The climate, plant life, pollution and surrounding mountains make this area tough on all of our sinuses. Sinusitis is basically inflammation and infection of the sinuses, which inhibits normal clearance of mucous. It affects approximately 31 million adults and children in the US.
Sinusitis is most commonly caused by an upper respiratory tract infection by bacteria, virus or fungus. Long-standing infections can lead to increased allergic reactions in the sinuses and dental infections. Some of the more common risk factors include: deficient immune system, nasal polyps, abnormalities of the sinus anatomy, cold air, cigarette smoke, decongestants, metal vapors, and allergies.
You may have an infection if you have the following symptoms: headache, pain, tender sinuses, toothache, cough, fever, loss of smell and just feeling lousy. If you have chronic post-nasal drip you may have a long-standing fungal infection. A culture can be taken to see if fungus is present.
Many people are given antibiotics for viral and fungal infections, which obviously has no effect. These infections end up being chronic which causes thickening of the lining of the sinuses and eventually surgery is required. Proper diagnosis and treatment is a necessity to prevent unnecessary surgeries. I see many patients with sinus infections who don’t want to just take antibiotics and prefer a natural approach.
I like to use a combination of acupuncture, deep heat, and direct herbal application to the sinuses. Basic nutrition includes vitamin C, zinc and beta-carotene to support the immune system. Depending on the diagnosis I will have the patient snort an herbal mixture that kills the fungus, bacteria or virus. These herbs are also taken internally for a stronger effect. Essential oils such as eucalyptus, lavender and thyme also have antiseptic and soothing properties to help with the swelling. The oils are breathed in through a steam bath with the head held over a pot. I also recommend nasal washes with salt water and I perform Cranio-sacral therapy.
I tend to see mostly fungal infections in Western North Carolina, which do not respond to antibiotics and are common in immunocompromised patients.
Do your best to avoid the common causes noted previously and keep your immune system healthy.