Many hospital visits annually can be attributed to sinus problems. In fact, the American Academy of Otolaryngology rightly informs us that every year, over 37 million Americans experience sinusitis symptoms. Things are continuing to worsen thanks to our polluted environment and air.
Sinusitis thoroughly impairs daily functioning causing pain, and significant challenges with energy, mental health, and work. In this article, we will look at what causes sinusitis, and 10 ways to save your sinuses:
Causes of sinus problems
There are several causes of sinusitis. Let’s list them here:
– Allergies (specially to pollen)
– The common cold/flu
– Fungi (this is very common in people with weak immune systems, for instance, those suffering from leukemia, diabetes and HIV/AIDS)
– Pollutants (for instance, air pollutants, pesticides, household cleaners, and cigarette smoke)
– Swimming and diving (causes pressure changes in the sinuses)
– Problems in the body that prevent mucus drainage from the sinuses
10 ways to save your sinuses
How then do you save your sinuses?
During cold weather, viruses live longer on frequently used surfaces like doorknobs. If you already have developed sinusitis, you need to wash your hands more often, especially after you sneeze and cough, before you prepare food or eat, after petting an animal, after handling raw meat, and definitely after using the bathroom.
When you cough or sneeze, use a tissue or raise your arm to the face, aiming at your sleeve. Throw tissues away as soon as you use them.
Take care of your immune system
The best way to boost your immune system is to ensure that you are healthy. Here are things to ensure that your immune system stays in shape:
– Eat a lot of fruits, whole grains, and vegetables
– Eat very little saturated fat if any
– Maintain a healthy weight
– Drink alcohol in moderation
– Cook meats thoroughly
– Do not smoke
– Exercise regularly
– Get adequate sleep
You need to “irrigate” your nose at least once a day to safeguard your sinuses. Here is how to go about it:
– Take 2 cups of distilled or previously boiled water and stir 1/2 tsp of baking soda and 1/2 tsp of non-iodized salt into it.
– Fill a small bulb syringe with the solution. You can also use a neti pot.
– Lean over the bathroom sink and insert the syringe’s tip into your nostril and squeeze the bulb gently. Use at least a full bulb of the solution.
– Repeat the procedure in the other nostril.
– Rinse the neti pot or syringe thoroughly after use.
Use a humidifier/vaporizer
Sinus pain can result from dryness. The nose is supposed to moisten the air that passes through it, make it warm and clean it. Heating systems in homes and workplaces cause the sinuses to become too dry, making allergies and sinus problems even worse. One way to make the sinuses more humid is to run a hot shower and inhale the steam. Alternatively, use a humidification machine or vaporizer. Humidified air keeps sinus problems at bay, especially during winter. Clean the machine daily so that it does not cause sinus problems in future.
If you are allergic to pollen, you need to stay indoors, especially between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. This is when the pollen count is highest. Even if you stay indoors, remember to keep the windows closed.
Fight dust mites
Regularly vacuum and wipe down surfaces and decrease clutter that traps dust. Use mite covers on your pillows and mattresses.
Use an air purifier for mold or pet allergies
Air purifiers help to prevent mold and pet allergies via trapping microscopic particles. They filter the particles from the air and trap them using HEPA filters. To get rid of these allergens in your home or office, place the air purifier in places where you are likely to find mold – bathrooms, rooms with upholstered furniture, bathrooms and the kitchen. Remember to replace the filter frequently.
Pressing sinus pressure points
If you are catching a cold or already have one, you could alleviate the discomfort via identifying sinus pressure points and putting pressure on those particular areas. Press on the pressure points for about two minutes. Sinus pressure points include:
– On either side of the nostrils
– Under the cheeks
– Between the eyes and above the bridge of the nose
– Bridge of the nose
– The Philtrum
Pressing these pressure points helps to drain mucus, alleviating sinus pressure caused by a cold or flu. This could help prevent inflammation and bring about relief from pain associated with sinus problems, as well as prevent respiratory diseases.
Using essential oils
Tea tree has antibacterial and inflammatory properties. Since sinus problems have a lot to do with inflammation and bacteria, tea tree oil comes in handy. The main component in eucalyptus oil is cineole. It helps clear bacteria and other microbes, clears the airways off mucus and suppresses coughs.
If your nose is stuffy, essential oils can help clear it. The best way to use them is via inhalation. To do this, combine essential oils with hot water. This creates a therapeutic steam.
Here is how to prepare essential oils for inhalation:
– Add 3 to 7 drops of essential oils to boiling water in a large pot (a heatproof bowl will do)
– Use a towel to cover your head
– Breathe through your nose for no more than 2 minutes at a time
– Keep the eyes closed to ensure that they do not get irritated.
The other way that you can use essential oils is via direct inhalation. You can do so directly from the bottle. Alternatively, add a drop of essential oils to a handkerchief, inhaler tube, or cotton ball and inhale it.
You can also try an aromatherapy bath. Add a few drops of essential oils to your bath water. For an aromatherapy massage, add a few drops of the oil into your massage oil or lotion.
Hot and cold compresses
Reclining with a hot washcloth over the eyes and nose helps to warm the nasal passages and loosen secretion. Alternate warm and cold compresses. This helps to relieve sinus pressure and pain.
Here is how to go about these compresses:
– Place a hot towel or washcloth across the sinuses for about 3 minutes
– Place a cold compress across the sinuses for 30 seconds
– Alternate 3 or 4 times
– Repeat the compresses at least 4 times daily.
All in all
The above 10 ways to save your sinuses can be used to prevent sinus problems, or even when you already have a cold or flu. They range from home remedies to buying machines.
RD Neha Kava
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