The sinuses are small cavities, which are filled with air and connect the nose and throat. The function of the sinuses is to prevent mucus from reaching the lungs and to prevent causing infection in the lungs. The sinuses are located in the upper nose, above the eyes, inside the cheekbones and alongside and behind the bridge of the nose.
Sinusitis or sinus infection is a medical condition where there is inflammation of the linings of the sinus. Sinusitis is of two types: acute sinusitis (sinus infection) and chronic sinusitis (sinus infection). Acute sinusitis is caused by common colds, viruses or bacteria. Chronic sinusitis can start with a cold, and continues to persist due to pollution or toxins in the air, smoking, stress or allergies. Acute sinusitis commonly resolves in a month or so. If the sinusitis (sinus infection) persists for more than 12 weeks, then it is diagnosed as chronic sinusitis.
Common Symptoms of Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)
- Facial tenderness and pain is a common symptom of sinus infection.
- Swelling can be present in the sinus areas.
- Feeling of sinus pressure behind the cheeks and eyes.
- Low-grade fever.
- Post-nasal drip consisting of thick green or yellow mucus, which can drain from the nose too.
- Decreased sense of smell.
- Bad-breath (halitosis).
- Breathing problems.
- Headache is also a common symptom of sinus infection.
- A stuffy and runny nose that is present for more than seven days.
How to Get Rid of Sinus Infection (Sinusitis) Without Antibiotics?
The key to maintaining healthy sinuses is avoiding colds. Although this is easier said than done, but is very much possible. Some of the effective methods in building immunity and fighting sinus infections, such as common cold include:
Ways to Get Rid of Sinus Infection with Appropriate Lifestyle Changes
If you are prone to frequent infections and colds, then it is time to change your lifestyle. For a better immune system in order to fight infections, we need to:
- Consume a nutritious diet comprising of whole foods.
- Drink clean, filtered water.
- Have at least 8 hours of good quality and sound sleep.
- Do moderate exercise daily.
- Additional supplements.
- Stress management.
It isn't advisable always to pop a pill to get rid of cold and sinus congestion, however convenient that may be. Even antibiotics, which are the most commonly prescribed treatment for colds, also do not always work but still are prescribed on a frequent basis. Antibiotics are designed to kill bacteria, so they are not effective in colds which are caused by viruses.
Over-prescribing the antibiotics can also cause fatal antibiotic-resistant bugs, which are becoming more and more common today. Antibiotics also work by killing the friendly bacteria in our intestinal tracts. These friendly bacteria are required for our immune systems. So chances are high that not only antibiotics will not help with the present cold, but will also make you more vulnerable to the next cold.
It is important to have adequate sleep for stronger immunity. According to research, insufficient sleep makes a person more vulnerable to sickness, especially common colds and sinus infections.
If you have any problem with sleeping, then please consult your doctor for help. Getting at least eight hours of good, sound sleep helps in keeping the immune system's function good. Try to reduce stress as much as possible by exercises, meditation and breathing exercises. Stress management will also help in giving you sound, deep, restful sleep.
Supplements for Fighting Sinus Infection
- Daily intake of supplements, such as curcumin 500 mg, vitamin C 2,000 to 4,000 mg in divided doses, essential fatty acids 1,000 mg twice daily, Vitamin A, Vitamin D supplement help in relieving the sinus infections.
- Vitamin A and beta-carotene which is a vitamin A precursor helps in maintaining a healthy immunity and keeps the mucous membranes healthy.
- Foods which are rich in vitamin A should also be consumed, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, mango, leafy greens, papaya, pumpkin and egg yolk.
- Zinc is a mineral which also helps in fighting infection and helps in keeping a good immune system. Zinc also helps in absorption of vitamin A. Foods which are rich in zinc include: Fish, egg yolks, whole grains, mushrooms, and pumpkin seeds.
Medical Treatment for Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)
- Antibiotics are prescribed if the cause of sinus infection is a bacterial infection. A course of 10-14 days is prescribed for acute sinus infection (sinusitis). In case of chronic sinus infection (sinusitis), a longer-term antibiotic can be prescribed. It is a point to remember that antibiotics will only be effective if the cause of sinus infections is bacteria. Antibiotics do not help with sinus infections, which are caused by viruses or other problems, such as allergens. According to the studies, antibiotics are widely overused and very few cases of sinusitis are caused by bacteria.
- Painkillers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen help in relieving infection. However, they should be taken after consultation of the doctor and should not be taken for more than 10 days.
Decongestants help in decreasing the quantity of mucus in the sinuses. Decongestants can be used in nasal spray form such as Dristan and Afrin; and pills such as Sudafed and Contac. Patient should note that if nasal sprays are used for more than three days, then they can actually increase the congestion instead of decreasing. Oral decongestants should not be used for more than seven days.
- Allergy medicines are helpful in those cases of sinus infections, which occur as a result of uncontrolled allergies. Medications, such as antihistamines and allergy shots help in relieving the symptoms of sinus infection caused by allergy.
- Steroids are used in some cases where the doctor prescribes inhaled steroids to help bring the swelling down in the sinus membranes. Oral steroids can also be prescribed for stubborn cases of sinus infection.
- Surgery is recommended if the patient has persistent or recurring acute or chronic sinus infections. Surgery comprises of removing the blockages and widens the sinus passages so that it becomes easier for the mucus to drain.
Home Remedies for Treating & Preventing Sinus Infections (Sinusitis)
There are many simple home remedies, which will help in relieving the discomfort. Given below are some approaches which will help in treating as well as preventing sinus infection:
- It is advisable to use humidifier in rooms where you are spending a lot of time. A humidifier needs to be cleaned regularly as a dirty filter can lead to spraying of mold into the air.
- Application of warm, wet towel on the face helps in relieving some of the facial pressure, pain and tenderness associated with sinus infection.
- Breathing in steam vapors either by running a shower or sitting in the bathroom and breathing deeply helps immensely helps as the steam vapors reduce the congestion and swollen nasal passages in sinus infection.
- Using a nasal saline solution helps in keeping the nasal passages moist.
- Nasal irrigation, i.e. flushing out the sinuses with salt water helps in clearing the mucus and other debris and helps in keeping the sinuses moist. This can be done with the help of bulb syringes and neti pots. Always use sterile, distilled or previously boiled water for the irrigation solution. It is also important that the irrigation device be rinsed after each use and is left to air dry.
- Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. This will help in thinning the mucus and decreasing the blockage in the sinuses.
- Abstain from alcohol intake, as it can exacerbate the swelling.
- Take plenty of rest whenever you have had sinus infection.
- Avoid overuse or frequent use of over-the-counter medicines.
- Grapefruit seed extract helps in removing the unwanted mucosa along with other debris. This acts as a natural antibiotic. The grapefruits seeds are grinded into a fine powder and used in a nasal spray.
- Apple cider vinegar is also helpful in sinus infections. Add two to three tablespoons of raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a cup of hot water or tea and drink it thrice a day. Lemon and honey can also be added for taste.
- Turmeric and ginger root contains natural anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric can be used along with ginger root by brewing it in a cup of tea. This helps in loosening the mucus and relieving the pressure in the sinuses.
Methods for Preventing Cold and Sinus Infection
This is a proven method for preventing colds. Gargling thrice a day, with plain water, all through the cold and flu season helps in decreasing the risk of catching a cold. If you are already suffering from a cold or sinus infection, then try saltwater nasal rinse, which is an inexpensive, effective and safe method to relieve the symptoms quickly. Over the counter saltwater rinses are also available or you can make your own at home by mixing some salt in water. Saltwater rinse helps in removing mucus and any other particles, such as allergens, toxins, and other irritating substances from the nose. This will help in decreasing the nasal congestion and protecting the lungs from harmful invaders. You can prepare salt rinse at home by mixing eight ounces of warm, distilled or filtered water with 1/8 teaspoon of salt (preferably sea salt). Now take a bulb syringe and fill it with saltwater solution. Bend over a sink and gently insert the syringe tip about half an inch into the nose. Don't push the syringe and point the tip of the syringe upwards and slowly squeeze the syringe bulb. This will cause the saltwater to flow into the nostril. Allow the saltwater to drain out of the mouth or your other nostril. Repeat this entire process on the opposite nostril.