What is Sinusitis?
Sinusitis is inflammation of the sinuses (ie, small air-filled cavities within the bones of the face surrounding the nose). Inflammation occurs when the drainage opening is blocked and stagnant mucus accumulates in the cavity. Anything that prevents drainage from the sinuses, such as anatomical obstructions or swelling from an infection, can cause sinusitis. Sinusitis should not be confused with rhinitis (ie, inflammation of the mucosal surface of the nasal cavity); however, since most cases of sinusitis include symptoms of rhinitis, the term rhinosinusitis is often used.
Often, acute sinusitis resolves on its own, and so antibiotics are not usually necessary or even desirable.
Natural interventions such as lactoferrin and vitamin C may help prevent and alleviate symptoms of sinusitis.
What are Causes and Risk Factors for Sinusitis?
- Viral upper respiratory tract infection (ie, common cold)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Facial injury
- Change in atmospheric pressure
- Deviated septum
- Foreign body, and others
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Sinusitis?
- Throbbing facial pain or pressure
- Opaque nasal secretions
- Postnasal drip
- Ear pain or pressure
- Aching teeth
Note: Symptoms usually last up to 10 days for viral sinusitis and 10 – 30 days for acute bacterial sinusitis. Chronic or recurring symptoms may indicate an underlying issue.
What are Conventional Medical Treatments for Sinusitis?
- Mild analgesics such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen
- Intranasal corticosteroids
- Antibiotics – but only if symptoms are severe enough or last long enough to suggest a bacterial infection
- Surgical intervention in the case of chronic sinusitis that does not respond to drug therapy
What Self-Care Strategies Can Be Beneficial for Sinusitis?
- Get adequate rest
- Elevate the head while sleeping to allow sinuses to drain
- Stay hydrated
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of antioxidants
- Steam inhalation
- Warm compresses to the sinuses
- Nasal irrigation with saline or sea salt solution
What Natural Interventions May Be Beneficial for Sinusitis?
Note: The listed natural interventions have been studied in the context of sinusitis. Those with acute sinusitis should also refer to the Common Cold protocol, as most cases of sinusitis are caused by complications from colds.
- Lactoferrin. Lactoferrin has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Its production is reduced in people with sinus conditions.
- Vitamin C. A sufficient intake of vitamin C is essential for the immune system to fight off infections. Vitamin C supplementation has been shown to decrease the risk of catching a cold and reduce the duration of cold symptoms.
- Zinc. Zinc is required for maintaining healthy immune function. Zinc supplementation can reduce the duration and severity of the common cold when taken within 24 hours of symptom onset.
- N-acetylcysteine (NAC). NAC may reduce the viscosity of mucus and help restore healthy sinus conditions.
- Vitamin E. Vitamin E may have a positive effect on the immune system, helping to prevent colds and reduce nasal inflammation.
- Bromelain. Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme that can reduce inflammation and loosen mucus. Bromelain-treated sinusitis patients had shorter duration of symptoms than those treated conventionally or with placebo.
- Eucalyptus. Eucalyptus oil can thin, drain, and reduce mucus secretions. It has also been shown to improve symptoms and reduce the duration of acute rhinosinusitis.
- Other natural interventions for sinusitis include xylitol nasal irrigation, black cumin seed oil, and various herbs and herbal combinations such as rosemary, gentian root, primula flower, elder flower, sorrel herb, and verbena.