Believe it or not, sinus infection, which affects many Indians each year, is more prevalent today than it was in the preantibiotic age! That's not to say that antibiotics aren't effective. When sinusitis (the technical name for a sinus infection) occurs, treatment with antibiotics is often essential to kill the infectious bacteria.
Decongestants can help relieve sinusitis symptoms. So can oral or topical steroids (to combat sinus inflammation) and antihistamines, if underlying allergies are involved.
Increasingly, doctors are realizing that to successfully fight off sinus infection and prevent it from recurring, medication alone isn't enough. You also have to ensure that the mucous membranes lining your nasal and sinus passages are healthy and functioning properly.
Sinusitis occurs when the mucous membranes in your nose and sinuses become irritated by a cold, allergy, pollutants or exposure to dry or cold air. This irritation causes the membranes to become inflamed. When this happens, the motion of the cilia (the tiny hairs that coat the mucous membranes and are responsible for moving mucus over their surfaces) slows down. At the same time, the irritation stimulates your mucous glands to secrete more mucus than usual to dilute the bacteria. Result: Mucus gets trapped in the sinuses, where it can easily become infected because the swelling meant to dilute the bacteria now blocks the sinus openings, and prevents the body from washing away the bacteria. Symptoms of sinus infection include...
* Facial pressure around the eyes, cheeks and forehead.
* Cold symptoms lasting more than 10 days.
* Thick, green/yellow mucus.
* Postnasal drip, which occurs when excess mucus drips down the back of the throat.
* Pain in the upper molars.
* Fatigue and a flu-like achiness.
The following natural treatments will help keep your cilia healthy and functioning and prevent mucus from building in your sinuses. If a sinus infection does occur, these same treatments will increase the effectiveness of antibiotics and other medications -- speeding healing and making a recurrence less likely. 1. Drink hot liquids. One of the best ways to unclog sinuses is to drink hot tea -- black, green, herbal or decaffeinated, it doesn't matter -- or hot chicken soup throughout the day. Drink enough so that your urine turns light in color. These hot liquids help moisturize your mucous membranes, speeding up the movement of your cilia and thus washing mucus out of your sinuses more quickly. Sorry, java lovers, but hot coffee isn't nearly as effective.
Note to travelers: The dry air on jet liners is particularly rough on the sinuses -- so when flying, carry tea bags with you and ask the flight attendant for hot water to make tea.
2. Apply warm compresses to your face. Do this three times a day for five minutes. A small towel soaked in warm water, then placed over your face below and between the eyes, will help increase the circulation in your sinuses, which will also help speed up the movement of your cilia. 3. Irrigate your sinuses. For 3,000 years, yoga practitioners have kept their sinuses healthy through the practice of sniffing a saltwater solution rapidly in and out of their nose at low pressure. Caution: Don't try this unless you have been taught how to do it.