Sinus infections are nothing to sneeze at – about 37 million Americans will develop one each year. Typical medical protocol calls for heavy doses of decongestants and antihistamines to knock out the infection. Unfortunately, these medications will likely knock you out as well, as they are known to put users to sleep. A growing number of doctors are reaching the conclusion that such medications alone aren’t enough to fully treat patients, and are taking a closer look at natural remedies. These treatments don’t carry energy-draining side effects, and tend to have impressive rates of success against sinus infections.
Causes and Symptoms
Sinus infections come about as a result of membrane irritation in the nose and sinuses. This irritation can be caused by allergies, colds, air pollutants or exposure to cold or dry air. When irritated by external forces, the nasal and sinus membranes swell and become inflamed. This inflammation disrupts the work of the cilia, tiny hairs that cover the mucous membrane and push mucous along its surface. In addition, the body’s mucous glands produce an increased amount of mucous in an attempt to dilute the foreign bacteria.
By swelling the nasal/sinus membranes and producing extra mucous, your body’s immune system is essentially trying to purge the toxins that have entered your nasal cavities. Unfortunately, this ends up backfiring on the afflicted person, as the additional mucous is soon trapped inside your nose by the swollen membranes. With nowhere to go, the mucous is quickly infected by the bacteria, turning it a sickly yellow/green color.
An unpleasant abundance of mucous isn’t the only symptom of sinus infections. Sufferers can also expect postnasal drip, fatigue, flu-like aches, upper molar pain and pressure around their eyes, cheeks and forehead. To make things worse, sinus infections are in are in no hurry to leave your body, as you could experience cold-like symptoms for up to 10 days.
How to Feel Better
Doctors routinely prescribe antibiotics and other medications to treat sinus infections. Such treatments often take a while before showing any noticeable impact. You can help speed up your recovery process by following a few simple steps:
Drink Hot Liquids – Your cilia need all the help they can get with pushing the mucous out of your nose. You can make things easier for them by drinking lots of hot tea (any kind will do) and helping yourself to plenty of chicken soup. The extra fluids will moisturize your membranes, allowing the cilia to push more mucous out of your nose at a faster rate. Coffee won’t help you much, however, so opt for tea instead.
Press Warm Cloths against Your Face – This is a really easy one – simply get a cloth, soak it with warm water, and hold it against your face. Press the cloth both below and between your eyes. The warm cloth will stimulate your sinuses and help your cilia move faster. For maximum results, try this method three times per day for five minutes.
Develop a Taste for Garlic – Garlic not only can add some spice to your dinner, but it also contains strong anti-bacterial properties that can help cleanse your sinuses of irritants. If you’re not especially hungry, pour some crushed garlic into a bowl of hot water and inhale the vapors. To prevent the vapors from escaping, make sure to place a towel over the bowl.
Elevate Your Head – Before bedtime, place an extra pillow underneath your head. This will help your nasal passages stay open while you sleep.
Crackdown on Dust Mites – Many times, those toxins responsible for your sinus woes come in the form of dust mites. Cleaning the dust out of your house, especially the bedroom, may stop a potential sinus irritant dead in its tracks.
Take the Day Off – When fighting off a sinus infection, the last thing your body needs is additional stress. Getting plenty of rest goes a long way towards getting rid of your sinus infection, so try to spend as much time in bed as possible. When you’re not sleeping, entertain yourself with some lighthearted and humorous TV and movies.