What is sinusitis and top tips on how to relieve sinus pressure.
Sinusitis is a painful condition due to swelling and inflammation in the sinus cavities, usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Your sinuses are tiny cavities behind your cheekbones and forehead that make mucous and keep the insides of your nose moist. If you suffer with sinusitis or a frequently blocked and congested nose, then this article is for you.
Top tips to reduce the severity of sinusitis
Increase intake of anti-inflammatory foods
Sinusitis is usually caused by an infection leading to an increase in the production of mucous. You can help reduce the build-up of mucous by removing inflammatory foods from your diet such as gluten, dairy, added sugar, processed and fast foods, alcohol and caffeine. Instead, increase your intake of anti-inflammatory foods such as brightly coloured vegetables and fruit as these contain vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Examples are:
- Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme, that helps to break down and prevent mucous production
- Onion and garlic have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties due to their polyphenol (quercetin) content which help to protect your sinuses against infection.
- Diluted lemon juice or Diluted apple cider vinegar have some evidence to support their use in reducing mucous production, helping to clear the sinuses and preventing the growth of bacteria.
- Brightly coloured fruit and vegetables such as kiwi fruit, blueberries, sweet potato, pumpkin contain the antioxidants Vitamin A and C which help your body to fight infection and support your mucous membranes.
Check your Vitamin D levels
Low Vitamin D status has been shown to be linked to increased likelihood of chronic sinusitis. You can get your Vitamin D level checked by your GP or health practitioner. You can support your Vitamin D levels by getting outside into sunshine daily, consuming foods that provide Vitamin D such as oily fish (salmon, herring, trout, anchovies, sardines, mackerel) or mushrooms. You can also take a vitamin D supplement as guided by your GP or health practitioner.
Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water is key to supporting the health of your sinuses. Hydration prevents mucous from becoming too thick, which can lead to clogging of the sinus cavities which provides the ideal environment for infection. Aim to drink at least 1.5L of fluids every day, including hot herbal teas which also encourage the loosening of mucous.
Practice nasal irrigation
Ayuvedic practices encourage cleansing the nasal cavities using a neti pot containing a tepid saline solution (only use distilled water for this). Alternatively, you can use commercial nasal sprays. Both aim to flush out the nasal passages, removing mucous and germs. Include as part of your daily / weekly routine.
Steam inhalation or hot compress or humidifier
These techniques help to reduce the pain and discomfort of swollen sinuses and introduce moisture into the nasal cavities which helps to thin mucous. Practice as often as needed to provide relief.
In summary, sinusitis and nasal congestion can be a painful experience. Our tips above may help to relieve symptoms of sinus pressure and reduce the incidence of sinusitis or nasal congestion bouts. If you suffer from recurrent bouts of sinusitis, book an appointment with your GP, as this may be an indication of structural problems such as nasal polyps or allergic reactions that need further investigation.
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