To Your Health
July, 2009 (Vol. 03, Issue 07)
If you think sinus problems are limited to the winter months, think again. Sinusitis - inflammation of the mucous membranes in the nose, sinuses and throat, eventually leading to blocked sinuses and potential infection - can be triggered by a number of things, from viral or bacterial infection to allergies or hay fever.
Regardless of the cause, sinusitis is a common problem with frustrating symptoms: congestion, cough, sore throat, fatigue, fever, pain and pressure around the eyes, cheeks nose or forehead, and sinus drainage in the form of a thick yellow/green discharge.
What can you do to prevent sinusitis? Harvard Women's Health Watch offers a few simple suggestions for reducing your risk or relieving early symptoms of the condition. First, keeping your nasal membranes moist is a great way to avoid/reduce sinus symptoms. Stir 1 teaspoon salt into 2 cups of lukewarm water; use a squeeze bottle to stream the solution through your nose. Do this 1-2 times daily to keep your nasal passages from drying out and clear excess mucus before it has a chance to cause congestion and/or infection. Drinking lots of water every day is another great way to keep mucus from building up; water keeps mucus thin, loose and easy to dissipate with the saltwater solution or simply by blowing your nose.
If you have sinus symptoms, inhaling steam also can help to reduce congestion and other symptoms. You can do this several ways: by spending a little extra time in a hot shower or steam room; or by boiling water in a pan and then inhaling the steam. (Place a towel over your head to maximize the effect.)
Finally, sleeping with your head elevated helps prevent mucus from pooling. When mucus builds up in your nasal passages, it's a veritable breeding ground for infection. It might mean you spend a few days and nights with a runny nose, but it's better in the long run than the alternative - congestion and infection.
Remember, always consult with your health care provider to make sure your symptoms aren't indicative of something more serious. Your doctor can also recommend these and other natural methods of treating your sinus problems without having to rely on decongestants or other over-the-counter medications.