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How to Treat Sinus Infections Naturally
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Jul 31, 2006
Hi Dr. Kim,
I've been struggling with a sinus infection for several months. I believe it is an infection because I don't have congestion, but do have drainage and it's giving me very bad breath. I also have pain in my lower sinus cavities when I press on them. And occasionally, I can feel a bubbling sensation in my lower sinuses.
I fasted for 3 days several weeks ago hoping to get the healing process moving and have been sticking to a pretty good diet since then. But so far I haven't seen any improvement. I recently went and sat in a sauna and it seemed to help while I was there. I plan on going several more times.
Can you give me any advice on what to do? Should I continue with the sauna? And if so, how often do you recommend? Are there any natural foods I should avoid? I know refined sugars have made it worse in the past and so have eliminated them however I wasn't sure if natural sugars should be avoided too. Are there any natural remedies you know of?
I appreciate any help you could give me on this.
Before we discuss treatment options, let's take a look at some basic facts on facial sinuses and the root causes of sinus infections.
You have four sinuses on each side of your face; frontal, maxillary, ethmoid, and sphenoidal. These sinuses are cavities inside of various bones that surround your nose. Each of these sinuses connects to your nasal passageway through small openings.
Your body uses these sinuses to eliminate unwanted materials and micro-organisms via mucous and body fluids. If your immune system is healthy and there is nothing to obstruct your sinuses and nasal passageway, then mucous, fluids, waste products, and micro-organisms drain from your sinuses into your nasal passageway, to be eliminated from your body.
Sinus infections can occur when an obstruction in the nasal passageway and/or in the sinuses themselves causes improper drainage of mucous and fluid, which increases the likelihood of micro-organisms flourishing in the area.
Nasal polyps and a deviated nasal septum can cause such an obstruction.
A far more common cause of obstruction in the area is nasal congestion. The inside of your nasal passageway is lined with a mucosal membrane that is lined with countless blood vessels. Nasal congestion can occur when these blood vessels expand and cause the mucosal membrane to become swollen. Expansion of these blood vessels most commonly comes about due to inflammation that accompanies a food-allergic reaction.
Clearly, if food-allergic reactions are causing you to experience nasal congestion and this is the main cause of a chronic sinus infection, you must identify and address your specific food allergens to experience lasting relief. Careful observation after each meal is the best way to identify your food allergens. I have found that pasteurized dairy products are the most common food allergens that trigger nasal congestion and sinus infections.
Another major cause of sinus infections is fungal overgrowth. Sinus infections that tend to appear or get worse after consumption of sugar, cookies, pasta, bread, and other refined carbohydrates are often fungal infections in one or more sinuses. In such cases, lasting relief can only be obtained by reducing or eliminating your intake of refined carbohydrates. If staying away from refined carbohydrates for 2-4 weeks does not result in improvement, you may want to reduce or eliminate fruit intake as well.
I have noticed that regular exposure to friendly bacteria can dramatically decrease or even eliminate sinus infections. This is most probably because friendly intestinal bacteria can strengthen your immune system and decrease systemic fungal overgrowth.
Saunas can be helpful because they can accelerate movement and elimination of mucous and some of your body fluids, which can help to clear infections out of your sinuses quicker than they normally would. I think one sauna per day is just fine, so long as you are eating water rich foods and drinking enough water to prevent dehydration. Just remember that while saunas can effectively accelerate recovery from sinus infections, you must identify and address the root causes of your infections if you want to prevent reoccurrences.
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