Treating allergies and sinuses
Bertie, 38, works in a merchandising outlet that sells fabric and other home items in Kingston. He has suffered with sinus issues for several years but is now experiencing some new symptoms. He keeps swallowing a lot of mucous and keeps clearing his throat a lot. His throat hurts at times even after visiting his doctor and taking a course of antibiotics, decongestants, and a nose drop to treat his sinuses. Bertie is fed up! He asks if there isn't some way to deal with the allergies and sinus problems that would allow him some relief from the endless cold running down his throat!
The lining of the facial bones, nose, airways, and throat produce a lot of mucous every day. The nose alone is thought to produce up to a quart of mucous daily.
Mucous is a thick secretion that moistens the area where it is produced and helps to trap and destroy bacteria, viruses, and other germs that are trying to enter the body.
Mucous from the nose usually mixes with saliva and is harmlessly swallowed or drips down the back of the throat, but when mucous is produced in even larger amounts or becomes thicker, it becomes noticeable. It may run out of the nostrils or run down the back of the throat.
When mucous runs down the back of the throat, it is called a post nasal drip. A post-nasal drip can be triggered by many causes, some of which are:
• Sinus infection
• Foreign object in the nose
• Some medications including birth control pills and some blood pressure pills
• Deviated nasal septum
• Changes in the weather and changing temperatures
• Spicy foods, milk
• Fumes from perfumes, cleaning products, hairdressing chemicals, smoke, and other industrial irritant.
• Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
A post-nasal drip often causes the person to swallow often and clear the throat often. It can trigger a cough, which is worse at night time and which just won't go away and which can even become painful and can be accompanied by wheezing. The excess mucous often leads to hoarseness and a dry, sore, and scratchy throat or even a burning sensation. If mucous plugs the Eustachian tube, which connects the throat to the middle ear, a painful ear infection can result. If the sinus passages become clogged, then sinus infection will follow.
The excess secretions being swallowed can lead to a feeling of fullness in the stomach and even bad breath.
Another complication of the persistent post-nasal drip is tonsil stones.
Before going for prescribed
medication, some safe home
remedies can be tried to alleviate sinus congestion and facial pressure.
The following methods are recommended:
• Flush nasal passages with saline. A saline neti pot is very useful for this or a saline nasal spray can also be used. The saline wash thins the mucous and helps flush it out of the nasal passages. Daily use of the saline solution keeps the sinuses moist.
• Use steam inhalation to the sinuses. Hot-water vapour moistens the sinuses. This effect is improved by adding menthol or eucalyptus to the hot water.
• Drink a lot of fluids. Good hydration keeps the sinuses moist. Avoid caffeine or alcohol, which dehydrate the body.
• Eating spicy foods like hot peppers, mustard, and curry can help clear out the sinuses.
• Allergy-proof your home. Studies show that allergies can worsen sinus pain. Get rid of dust mites and keep pets out of the bedroom. Dust and vacuum regularly.
• Use a humidifier at nights.
• Apply warm compresses to the face and nasal regions.
• Know when to see the doctor! If home remedies don't work, then the physician can request a CT scan of the sinuses and nose to search for sinus blockages and a possible deviated nasal septum or polyps.
• Boost the immune system with regular use of Vitamin C and anti-oxidants like pine bark. Try grapefruit seed extract, turmeric, or ginger root tea. This is good at bed time! Two tablespoons full of apple cider vinegar in a cup of hot water drunk three times daily will keep the sinuses moist and relieve congestion and sinus pressure.
• Avoid smoking.
• Drink hot chicken soup. The steam from it opens the stuffy nose and throat and thins the mucous.
• Take a hot, steamy shower.
Prescribed medications for this condition from the physician will include:
• Antibiotics to clear a bacterial infection. However, the infection could be viral or even fungal, so the antibiotic may not help.
• Anti-histamines and decongestants to dry up post-nasal dripping.
• Steroidal nasal sprays to alleviate post-nasal drips caused by allergies.
• Treatment for GERD if this is detected by the physician.
• Endoscopic sinus surgery is also available. This enlarges the ostia connections between the sinuses and the nose and improves sinus drainage.
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