You cough now and then and sneeze a lot when you get up in the morning. You are feeling tired and your body aches. You suspect you have a cold. You go on to take medication for the common cold. It doesn't work. You now have a terrible headache as well. You finally consult the doctor. After listening to your history of symptoms, examining your face and forehead, and perhaps seeing a sinus X-ray, the doctor says you have sinusitis. This is the day of health problems begins.
When you say that you are having a sinus attack, you are actually referring to symptoms in one or ore of your pairs of hallow cavities, or air spaces, known as para-nasal sinuses. These cavities are located within the skull or bones of the head surrounding the nose.
Each sinus has an opening into the nose for the free exchange of air and mucous and a continuous mucous membrane lining joints each sinus with the nasal passages.
Therefore, anything that causes a swelling in the nose, either an infection or an allergic reaction can affect the sinuses. Air trapped within an obstructed sinus, along with pus or other secretions may cause pressure and pain on the sinus wall. The swollen membrane at the opening prevents the air from entering into para- nasal sinuses that creates vacuum and causes pain.
Sinusitis simply means inflammation of the sinuses. It has own localized pain signals, depending upon the particular sinus affected. Recurrent headache or congestion that changes with head position and disappear shortly after getting out of bed is the characteristic of sinus involvement. You may have stuffy nose and loss of smell with yellowish green nasal discharge. You may experience bad breath; pain in the upper jaw and tenderness over the facial sinuses is also present. Fever, if present indicates the acute nature of the disease. In addition, drainage of mucous from the sinuses down the back of the throat can cause a sore throat and irritate the membrane lining, and the upper windpipe causing cough.
Sinusitis can be caused by infections, allergies of medicines. It can also occur because of changes on temperature, air pressure and irritants in the air. A cold can put you at risk of sinusitis. Overuse of decongestant nasal sprays, smoking, swimming and diving may also increase your risk. Nasal polyp and other problems with the sinuses also increase the probability of getting sinusitis.
Sometimes, fungal infections can cause acute sinusitis. Although these organisms are abundant in the environment, they are usually harmless, indicating that the human body has a natural resistance to them. Fungi can cause serious illness in people whose immune systems are not functioning properly. Inhaling airborne allergens such as dust, mould and pollen, often sets off allergic reactions that, in turn contribute to sinusitis.
SELF HELP APPROACH
- If you are susceptible to sinus disorders you should avoid cigarette smoke and other air pollutants. Inflammation in the nose caused by allergies provokes sinusitis. Drinking alcohol also causes the nasal-sinus membranes to swell.
- Do not swim in the pool treated with chlorine, since chlorine irritates the lining of the nose and sinuses.
- Air travel, too poses a problem if you are suffering from sinusitis. A bubble of air trapped within your body expands as air pressure in a plane is reduced. This expands as air pressure in a place is reduced. This expansion causes pressure on surrounding tissues and can result in blockage of the sinuses or the eustachian tube in the ears. The result may be discomfort in the sinus or middle ear during the plane's ascent or descent. In the same way, some people with sinusitis feel worse just before a rainstorm, when the air pressure is changing.
- if you suspect that your sinus inflammation is getting worse with dust, mould, pollen, or food or any of the hundreds of allergens that can trigger a respiratory reaction, you should take medical help.
- Avoid curd, banana, ice-cold drinks and frequent head baths. Mosquito repellants are the major culprots. If possible, use mosquito nets in the place of repellants.
- Household remedies such as turmeric, garlic, ginger and black pepper are always helpful for both the prevention as well as cure of the disease.
- Although sleep is important to help you feel healthy, too much sleep may worsen your sinus symptoms. This happens because lying down increases nasal congestion. If only one side of your sinuses is affected, try lying on the side that is not congested when you go to sleep.
- For some people who have chronic sinusitis, exercise helps reduce congestion by increasing nasal discharge. For other people, exercise can worsen symptoms.
- Make sure your eyeglasses fit well. If your glasses pinch your nasal bridge, your symptoms may get worse.
- Steam can be very helpful in relieving congestion. Yu can use steam inhalations with or without astringents such as eucalyptus or menthol. Simply breathing in the steam for a cup of hot water works. You can also place a damp cloth heated in the boiling water or microwave oven over your face, but make sure you do not burn yourself.
- Saline rinse helps moisten dry nasal membranes, and makes the mucus wetter and easier to remove. The saline rinse can be prepared at home by mixing one-fourth teaspoonful of table salt with 200 ml of warm water. Use a bulb syringe to squirt the liquid into your nostrils and rinse the sinuses. Nasal wash with the lotion prepared from fried Tankana bhasma (borax) is also very effective.
After diagnosing sinusitis and identifying a possible cause, your doctor can prescribe a course of treatment hat will reduce the inflammation, relieve the symptoms, and build up the resistance power. Sinusitis is treated by re-establishing drainage of the nasal passages, controlling or eliminating the source of the inflammation, and improving the immunity power.
- Ayurveda doctors generally recommended nasal drops such as Anu taila or Shadbindu taila to reduce congestion. These oils initially may provoke bouts of sneezing and running of water from the nose. If properly inhaled, these oils remove the blockage of the path from the sinuses of the nasal cavity.
- To reduce the inflammation, you may be advised to take medicines such as Khadiraadi vati, Vyoshaadi vati and kaanchanaara guggulu. These medicines will produce a soothing effect and reduce the inflammation.
- Other symptoms such as headache, pain and nasal allergies are treated with appropriate medicines. Medicines such as Laxmi vilas ras, Chyawana praasha, Abhraka bhasma will build up the immunity if used for a long period.
- Chitraka hareetaki available in leha form in the dose of 2 teaspoonful with warm milk twice daily is also an effective remedy that is commonly prescribed for sinusitis. Along with it nasal inhalation is steam to which a few drops of Jeevan dhaara (a mixture of camphor, menthol etc) are added, should be inhaled twice daily for about a week.
Compiled by: Dr Raja Ram Dhungana