Lie down and sleep it off? Yes, sometimes sinus pressure hurts so bad you just have to lie down and sleep it off. In North America, this often means decongestants and pain pills. I asked myself: Is this the best we can do – cut chunks of time out of our life to be unconscious and take a lot of drugs? That sounds more like something an addict would have to do instead of something that a productive member of society would do. And, it sure doesn’t sound like fun to me.
Congestion/swelling in the sinuses can also lead to a secondary bacterial infection of the sinuses. At times, dental infection can migrate to the sinuses and cause problems. These things are not just irritating. They can be quite serious. An untreated secondary infection of the sinuses can cause eye problems, ear problems, or even more serious problems in the head area. Let’s talk about what we can do about this.
We have to talk about prevention because it is our best weapon. The main causes of sinus pressure are is dryness of the air in our homes, allergies, chemical causes (irritating odors), and colds. The result is blocked sinus passageways leading to pressure and pain and ultimately to a secondary bacterial infection if allowed to go on too long. And then there is dairy. In my opinion all sinus sufferers should always stay away from dairy products. Dairy products have been demonstrated to cause thickening and mucus secretions. Again we get pain and pressure.
Now what do we do for treating our pain, pressure, and infections? Most of us sinus sufferers are very much concerned about pain and pressure. It can ruin your day. Various therapies have been tried. Allopathic medicine (the kind we practice in the U.S.) will treat
This by the band-aid approach. That is, attempt to reduce the swelling/congestion in the sinus cavity with drugs and also make the sufferer more comfortable with pain drugs. This can have two drawbacks. Number one, it does not do anything to relieve the cause of the problem. The problem will keep coming back. Number two, the person having the predicament is exposed to yet another set of problems: the side effects of drugs. Not much is mentioned about these side effects and when they are mentioned they are downplayed. One drug therapy is to spray a decongestant drug such as phenylephrine up the nose. It can work pretty well temporarily. If you use the decongestant spray for more than 7 days – as is likely in the case of a bad cold – the problem of tolerance comes up. What happens is that after a certain amount of constant use, the swelling/congestion comes back in between doses. This happens even after the swelling/congestion normally would have disappeared. Often the user experiences constant swelling/congestion even when using the spray. It is called rebound congestion. Using oral decongestant pills can lead to higher blood pressure and sleeplessness. Less commonly, anxiety, shaking, difficulty urinating, irregular or pounding heartbeat occur. In folks with cardiac problems it can be a very serious problem.
Natural remedies for the problem of pain include a combination of Wild Lettuce and Valerian in a 1:1 ratio, aromatherapy, horseradish root, and saline nasal spray. My favorite is the horseradish root. Just grate a couple of teaspoonfuls of the fresh root, hold in the palm, and sniff lightly to open up the passageways. The key is to sniff very lightly. If you huff it you will release all of the mucus at once and go into a coughing fit. If a secondary bacterial infection does happen, we can use garlic, 4 cloves taken 4 times a day.
When we use natural aids we want to emphasize eliminating the cause of the problem. Allergy elimination, getting dairy products out of the diet, and staying out of chemically irritating environments (such as new carpeting without ventilation) are key to doing this.
So now we have considered what the sinus problem consists of and both the pharmaceutical and natural options for dealing with it. You may well have questions about the natural therapies. If so, please do not hesitate to leave your question on my blog.