Sinus infection or sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses (air cavities inside the facial bone that are lined by mucous membranes) and nasal passages. Mostly, sinusitis is caused due to infection by bacteria, virus, and fungi. Other triggers include allergens or pollutants, temperature, humidity, poor air quality, weak immune system, dehydration, stress, and hormonal fluctuations. The infection causes congestion of the nasal passages, which blocks the drainage of the sinuses, leading to various symptoms.
Types of Sinusitis and General Symptoms
Infection to the sinuses is classified into four types, based on the area of infection and/or pain, namely maxillary (pain in cheek area), frontal (pain between the eyes and behind the eyebrows), ethmoid (pain between the eyes and behind the nose bridge), and sphenoid sinusitis (pain in the upper areas of the nose). In addition, depending upon the duration of infection, sinusitis can be acute (lasting for less than four weeks), subacute (4 - 12 weeks) or chronic (more than 12 weeks).
The typical symptoms of sinusitis are excess phlegm, headache, and pain in the eyes, cheek area, and nose. A sinusitis patient may also experience cough, fever, nasal congestion, and bad breath. Monitoring phlegm color is a reliable approach to stage infection; yellow phlegm means the beginning or final stage, while green color indicates active infection phase. The incidences of sinus attacks are higher in patients with related illness such as asthma, bronchitis, and alike respiratory diseases.
Diagnosis of a sinus infection is done on the basis of the symptoms, physical examination, and medical history of the patient. Additional diagnostic methods such as biopsy (medical examination, done by removing cells and tissues), ultrasound, and CT (Computed tomography) scan are done for confirmation of the sinus infection and its type. These imaging tests are suggested mainly for patients who complain of chronic and recurrent sinusitis bouts.
Herbal Remedies for Getting Rid of Sinusitis
Sinusitis can be treated with allopathic medications such as antibiotics and antihistamines, based on the disease etiology. However, there are many cases of recurrent infection even after taking a complete course of prescribed medicine. Also, any type of medication is associated with some adverse effects, which may be mild to severe. Hence, many people opt for natural remedies that are free of major side effects. Let's see some of the herbal remedies, which can help you in getting rid of sinus infection.
Licorice is a widely used medicinal plant, and the root part is used to fight sinus infections. It reduces inflammation and stimulates the immune system, which altogether helps in combating the infection. A powerful expectorant, it helps in thinning of sputum in the nasal cavities, thereby allowing easy drainage. Care should be taken while choosing this herbal remedy, as there are also licorice capsules available for treatment of stomach ulcers.
Eucalyptus, because of its strong antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, has been used for sinusitis treatment since a long time. You can drink eucalyptus tea or inhale its steam for 2 - 4 times daily. For inhalation therapy, boil eucalyptus leaves in water and inhale the steam. If you don't have access to fresh leaves, adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil will also work. Inhalation of eucalyptus helps clear the nasal passages and quicken the recovery time.
Take one tablespoon of mustard seed powder and boil in water. Boil until the water is reduced to half. Cool it down to warm temperature and put 1 - 2 drops in the nostrils with the help of a dropper. This will be helpful in clearing the nasal passages. Another way of using mustard seed is to grind it, and make a paste with flour and water. Wrap this paste in a thin cloth and place over the chest. Also, consuming dishes prepared with mustard oil aids in improving the infection symptoms.
Ginger is used for headaches and to get relief from nasal problems. It has anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties. Mostly, ginger extract is used for curing sinus infections. Prepare extract of ginger by grinding raw ginger and take 1 - 2 teaspoons daily until you get rid of sinusitis. Consuming dry ginger everyday also works great for treating sinus infection in the natural way. In addition, you can also take ginger tea regularly.
Peppermint acts as an expectorant and anti-inflammatory agent in therapeutic applications. You can drink tea or inhale steam of peppermint to promote expelling of mucus from the sinuses and nasal passages. Applying dilute peppermint oil over the forehead is a simple tip to get sinus headache relief. Overall, it is beneficial for ease in breathing, relieving sinus pressure, and reducing other sinusitis symptoms.
Besides containing a high amount of antioxidant, cinnamon has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Using this dried bark in steam therapy soothes the mucous membrane lining of the nasal passages. Cinnamon paste can be also applied to the head and nose for reducing pain and pressure. One word of caution is to avoid using cinnamon oil directly, as it is highly potent and can cause allergic reactions.
General Remedies for Getting Rid of Sinusitis
Apart from the herbal medicine, adopting personal care tips is an important strategy for addressing sinusitis. According to medical data, people who are hypersensitive and those having a compromised immune system are more susceptible to sinusitis than others. So, they should take extra care when it comes to avoiding allergens and triggering factors. Also, quit smoking and try to avoid common cold, as they trigger sinus infection. The following are effectual home remedies.
- Internal use of apple cider vinegar is proven to be an effective approach for dealing with sinus infection. For the same, add 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink it daily, until the infection symptoms subside.
- Using neti pot for nasal irrigation helps in reducing nasal congestion temporarily. However, its effectiveness in complete treatment of sinusitis is doubtful. In any case, use only the prescribed saline water for nasal rinsing.
- Drinking an ample amount of warm water and juice that is rich in proteins and vitamins boosts the immune system and helps to get rid of sinus infection. It also keeps the body hydrated and promote drainage of mucus.
- As we all know, low humidity level and/or dry condition exacerbates nasal congestion. Hence, consider installing a room humidifier (at least in the bedroom) to loosen mucus. Or else, keep a bowl filled with water to give humidification effect.
- Natural therapy like steam bath is an effective cure for sinus infection. It stimulates the immune system that aids in early recovery from the infection. Also, the causal organisms are weakened or get killed at an elevated temperature.
People with fever, high blood pressure, heart diseases, and pregnant women should not take steam bath. While it doesn't cause harmful effects, take approval from a specialist before undergoing steam therapy for sinusitis treatment. With correct care and remedial measures, an episode of sinusitis lasts for 9 days to 2 weeks. If symptoms persist for more than 15 days, get the condition checked by a physician for adopting medication therapy. Based on the condition, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics, decongestants, and antihistamines for sinusitis treatment.