Chances are you're familiar with the feelings of pressure, pain, or
tenderness around the eyes that characterizes sinusitis. About 31 million
Americans report symptoms of sinusitis every year. Sinusitis is an infection of
the sinuses, the passages that lie behind your cheeks, nose, and eyes. Colds,
viruses, and allergies often leave the sinuses vulnerable to infection.
Sinusitis may also result from an infected tooth, swimming, a disease in the
sinuses, or an injury to the sinuses.
When sinuses become infected, mucus membranes swell and block fluid drainage.
The increase in pressure can cause a dull or severe frontal headache. Bending
down or leaning over may make the pain worse, as may cold or damp weather. Sinus
headaches tend to be worse in the morning and improve in the afternoon. Other
symptoms of sinusitis are:
- Yellow or green nasal discharge or postnasal drip
- Mild to moderate fever
- Cough or sore throat
- Loss of smell
- General fatigue and tiredness
Using a vaporizer or inhaling steam will shrink swollen passages and promote
normal sinus drainage. Your doctor can prescribe nasal sprays to help you breath
easier but these should only be used short-term. Antibiotics may also be
prescribed. A decongestant can help, but don't use one if you have a heart
condition or problems urinating.
There are numerous complementary therapies for treating sinus infections.
Avoid foods that encourage the body to make mucus, such as dairy products and
bananas. Avoid environmental allergens (such as tobacco smoke, dust, and auto
fumes) if possible and any specific food allergies you may have. Drink plenty of
fluids and decrease your sugar intake. You might also try one of the following
supplements to boost immunity:
- 1,000 mg vitamin C three times a day
- 30 to 60 mg zinc a day
- 15,000 IU beta-carotene a day
Or to reduce inflammation:
- 500 mg bromelain three times a day, taken between meals
- 500 mg quercetin three times a day, taken between
There are a variety of herbal treatments that help promote sinus drainage,
relieve pain, and strengthen the immune system. Herbs can be taken in capsules,
brewed in teas, or in tinctures. Try drinking one cup of tea or
taking 30 to 60 drops of tincture every two to four hours of the following
herbs, which can be effective taken individually or in
- Wild indigo
Homeopathic remedies for sinusitis include arsenicum album, kali
bichromicum, pulsatilla, and nux vomica. Consult an
experienced homeopath for a recommendation on which remedy may be effective for
Additional home treatments include alternating placing hot and cold wet
washcloths on your face. Use a hot one for three minutes, then a cold one for
one minute, and repeat three times. Try to do three sets a day. Eucalyptus,
lavender, rosemary, or thyme oils added to a hot bath may give you some relief
as well. Another option is to add two to five drops of one of these oils to a
pot of water, bring to a simmer, and inhale the steam.
If you go to your doctor's office, he or she will probably look in your nose
and lightly press your face to check for tenderness. If your doctor prescribes
antibiotics, follow the instructions and take all of the medicine even if you
start to feel better. Unfortunately, sinus infections can come back or may
persist despite medicine. If that's the case, your doctor may prescribe a
stronger antibiotic or order diagnostic tests.