Sinusitis is an inflammation, or swelling, of the tissue that lines the sinuses that leads to infection. Sinusitis can cause mucus buildup and pain. If you’ve ever experienced a sinus infection, then you know how unpleasant it can be, far worse than just having a stuffy nose.
While in most cases, a sinus infection will make you want to use decongestant ad nauseam, in the worst case, it can reach the point where surgery is needed to remove a developed abscess or obstruction. of the paranasal sinuses.
Sinusitis is a common medical diagnosis for which antibiotics are prescribed these days. While antibiotics for sinus infection are a very common conventional treatment, most sinus infections are actually the result of colds or viruses.
Fortunately, there are many natural ways to treat a sinus infection, including diet, saline nasal spray, essential oils, and supplements scientifically proven to be effective home remedies for sinus infection.
What is a sinus infection?
The sinuses, or sinus cavities, are hollow spaces through which air flows into the bones that surround the nose. A sinus infection or sinusitis occurs when the nasal cavities become swollen and inflamed. Normally, your sinuses fill with air. When the sinuses become blocked and filled with fluid, germs (bacteria, viruses, and fungi) can grow and cause an infection.
How long do sinus infections last?
That depends on the type of sinus infection you have. Acute sinusitis can last more than two weeks even with proper treatment. If your sinus infection lasts longer than 10-14 days, then you most likely have bacterial sinusitis. Chronic sinusitis lasts much longer, at least 12 weeks.
Chronic sinusitis with polyps is an inflammation of the sinuses that lasts 12 weeks or longer and can lead to nasal polyps. Other forms of chronic sinusitis are associated with allergies or a deviation of the septum, and can also last 12 weeks or more.
Is a sinus infection contagious?
The answer to that question: it depends on what caused it in the first place. If a virus causes your sinus infection, then you can transmit this virus. This means that a person who catches your illness (the virus) will likely catch a cold, which could later turn into a sinus infection, but it could also remain a cold.
In some cases, the flu also triggers a sinus infection. Bacteria can also cause a sinus infection. In this case, your infection cannot be transmitted to other people. However, a bacterial sinus infection is usually more severe and lasts longer than a viral sinus infection.
How can you tell what type of sinus infection you have?
Your doctor won’t be able to tell you if your sinus infection is bacterial or viral just by looking at symptoms or a simple exam. The best way to determine the root of a sinus infection is the duration of the symptoms.
If it’s a viral sinus infection, you should start to get better after five to seven days. On the other hand, a bacterial infection often lasts seven to 10 days or even longer, and the infection can get worse after seven days.
Signs and symptoms of sinus infection
Many symptoms of sinus infection are common in acute and chronic cases of sinusitis. Common symptoms of a sinus infection include:
- Thick, yellow, foul-smelling discharge from the nose
- Obstruction in the nose
- Post-nasal drip
- Sinus pressure or pain around the face and eyes
- Headache (usually in the area of the forehead and often referred to as a “sinus headache”)
- A persistent or worsening cold
It is important to note that all of these symptoms can occur in a common cold. It is only when these symptoms continue for more than 10 days that it can be considered a sinus infection.
If you have two or more symptoms and / or have a thick, green, or yellow nasal discharge, it could be acute sinusitis. In the case of chronic sinusitis, you will continue to have these symptoms for 12 weeks or more, and you may also experience the following:
- Feeling of congestion
- Pus in the nasal cavity
- Discolored nasal discharge or postnasal drip
- Bad breath
- Constant tired feeling
Causes and risk factors of sinusitis
Any health situation that blocks the vital drainage channels of the sinuses can cause a sinus infection. These situations include:
- Respiratory infections like the common cold
- Hay fever or exposure to allergens such as cigarette smoke, dry air, and pollutants
- Obstructions in the nasal or sinus cavities, including nasal polyps, deviated septum, or nasal bone spur
- Non-allergic rhinitis (allergy-like symptoms that have no known cause)
- Changes in air pressure (for example, when swimming or climbing at high altitudes)
- Infections resulting from dental problems
- Physical injury to the sinuses
- Bacteria, viruses and fungi
The five most common bacteria that can cause sinus infections are: Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Moraxella catarrhalis, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus pyogenes.
Risk factors (some of which overlap with causes) for sinus infections include:
- Have asthma
- Overuse of nasal decongestants
- Frequent swimming or diving
- Climbing or flying at high altitudes
- Nasal polyps, nasal bone spurs, or other abnormalities such as a deviated septum or cleft palate
- Dental infection
- Exposure to air pollution and cigarette smoke
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
- Being hospitalized, especially if the reason you are in the hospital is related to a head injury or if you need a tube inserted into the nose (for example, a nasogastric tube that runs from the nose to the stomach).
Treatment for sinus infection
When it comes to a sinus infection, many doctors recommend using antibiotics if symptoms have persisted for more than 10 days or if the sinus infection is considered bacterial.
If your sinus infection is viral in origin, then you don’t need antibiotic treatment. Amoxicillin (Amoxil) is commonly prescribed for an acute sinus infection without complications.
Many doctors also use amoxicillin-clavulanate (Augmentin) as a treatment when there is a suspicion of bacterial sinus infection.
Doctors also recommend nasal corticosteroids, decongestants, pain relievers, fever reducers, antihistamines, mucolytics, and other medications.
It is important to be aware of the side effects of all medications that are prescribed for you. It is also crucial to know that there are a large number of doctors who continue to prescribe antibiotics for viral sinus infections and this only increases the problem of antibiotic resistance.
10 natural remedies for sinus infections
Main foods and drinks you should consume
- Water: adequate hydration is the key to eliminating the virus from your system. Try to drink at least 200 milliliters every 2 hours.
- Chicken Broth with Vegetables: This traditional remedy helps to soothe the nasal cavities and respiratory system, as well as providing important minerals.
- Horseradish – Anyone who accidentally ate too much horseradish may have experienced its powerful ability to clear the nasal passages. Mix some horseradish with lemon to make it even more powerful.
- Ginger: Make a ginger tea and add raw honey to it for relief.
- Garlic and onion: these two vegetables help increase immune function.
- Foods rich in vitamin C: Eating foods rich in vitamin C can boost the immune system and speed recovery from sinusitis.
2. Foods and drinks to avoid
- Sugar: Sugar decreases the number of white blood cells that help fight infection.
- Fruit juices: Although orange juice contains some vitamin C, it is not as rich in particular vitamin as whole fruits or vegetables.
- Dairy Products – Milk and other dairy products produce mucus, so they are best avoided.
- Flour and refined grains: All refined grains can cause increased mucus production.
3. Oil of oregano
Oil of oregano contains two powerful compounds called carvacrol and thymol that have powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is best to eat 500 milligrams of oregano oil four times a day.
During the treatment of sinus infections, you can add a few drops of oregano oil to a large bowl of boiled water and bring your face close to the steam.
Be careful not to burn yourself, cover your head with a towel creating a small tent in the bowl to keep the steam inside, close your eyes and place your face over the pot (at a safe distance from the hot water) and inhale the steam for a few minutes.
This will help clear your nostrils and can be repeated several times a day.
4. Grapefruit seed extract
Grapefruit seed extract has powerful antiviral properties. That is why it is included in many nasal and throat sprays. The main biological compounds in grapefruit seed that are responsible for its ability to destroy infectious invaders are believed to be the polyphenols known as limonoids and naringenin.
You can use a grapefruit seed extract nasal spray four times a day.
5. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is essential for the proper function of the immune system, which is the system that protects your body from infection and also helps your body fight infections once they have invaded your body.
Being an antioxidant, vitamin C helps protect our cells from free radical damage. Free radicals are found in things that can commonly contribute to the development of sinus infections like air pollution and cigarette smoke. It is advisable to take 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C three times a day.
Garlic is one of the best antibiotics in nature. Since colds often lead to a sinus infection, garlic is an amazing way to not only naturally treat a sinus infection, but to prevent it.
In a study with two groups of participants, one group took garlic supplements, and the other took placebos, this 12 weeks of the cold season (between November and February).
Those who consumed garlic were less likely to catch a cold, and if they did catch a cold, they recovered faster than the placebo group. The group that did not consume garlic (placebo group) had a much higher chance of contracting more than one cold during the 12-week treatment period.
To promote the general health of an adult, the World Health Organization recommends a daily dose of two to five grams (approximately one clove) of fresh garlic, 0.4 to 1.2 grams of dried garlic powder, two to five milligrams of garlic oil. garlic, 300 to 1,000 milligrams of garlic extract, or other formulas that are equal to two to five milligrams of allicin.
Echinacea is an herb that can help your body fight viruses and bacteria. Professional herbalists often recommend this herb for the natural treatment of sinus infections.
Scientific studies have shown that echinacea contains active substances that are antiviral and stimulate the immune system, while reducing pain and inflammation, which is a perfect combination of benefits during a sinus infection.
It’s best to take an echinacea supplement at the first sign of echinacea. The recommended is 1,000 milligrams two to three times a day.
8. Neti nasal cleanser
Using a Neti nasal cleanser with a saline solution can also greatly improve sinus problems and clear the nasal passages.
This process is called “nasal irrigation.” Research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed that using Neti cleanser can eliminate some symptoms of chronic sinusitis and maintain positive results for a period of six months.
9. Add more moisture
Whether it’s a humidifier, a saline nasal spray, or sitting in a steamy bathroom, adding more moisture to the air and your nostrils can really help reduce congestion.
For this, it is best to sleep with a humidifier while you have a sinus infection. You can also buy a natural saline nasal spray that you can use several times a day (following the instructions on the box).
Steam inhalation is especially good for reducing sinus headaches.
10. Essential oils
To naturally cleanse the breasts, the use of eucalyptus and peppermint oil can be very effective. These essential oils can naturally open the sinuses, clear mucus, and clear infections.
Rub a drop of each of these oils on your palate (only do this with food grade essential oils). Then drink water.
If your sinus infection symptoms get worse or you don’t see improvement after 10-14 days, then you should see your doctor. A sinus infection that does not improve can lead to other conditions, such as bronchitis, and the need for surgery.
When you first experience allergy-like symptoms, you may also want to consult an allergist as an allergist can determine the cause of your symptoms.