SINUS INFECTION (Sinusitis)
WHAT DOES IT MEAN? WHAT'S CAUSING IT? WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Are you prone to a problem with 'Sinus Infection'?
The winter chill in the air and the smell of cedar logs crackling and burning in a far off chimney refreshes the senses. Yet after several minutes of walking, my nasal passages have swollen shut. An unsightly drop of clear mucus prompts me to reach for a tissue. For many, this discomfort masks the genius of a stuffy nose and prompts a battle with an irritated, red proboscis. Assaulted by an arsenal of nasal sprays and drops, the nose briefly submits to temporary relief only to suffer the consequences. Cold temperatures leave our schnoz vulnerable to attack and invasion by bacteria and virus.
The Brilliance of Stuffy NosesAyurveda's approach redirects frustration away from our stubborn, sealed and sulking snout and instead towards the root cause. Once brilliantly buffered from exposure to the cold air and blanketed by a thick layer of mucus, the comfy cozy sinuses warm up again. Our nose knows that viruses thrive on the surface of cool mucus membranes. It's winter, and a stuffy nose protects delicate sinus tissues by swelling shut and filling with fluids to prevent nasal breathing. Forcing them open again would create vulnerability to infectious attack.
The Dignity of BoogersThe example above highlights a perspective that respects the body and dignifies its responses to disease, from boogers to blood pressure, however uncomfortable the symptom may feel. This perspective is core to many traditional healing systems on the planet from Ayurveda to the western nineteenth century Vitalists. These healing systems suggest we work with the body, embracing symptoms as teachers or clues rather than struggling against them. The presence and type of a stuffy nose helps us clarify the cause, whether due to blood stagnation, chronic cold, or underlying allergy.
DefinitionsNasal congestion is the blockage of the nasal passages, also known as nasal blockage, nasal obstruction, blocked nose, stuffy nose, or stuffed up nose. Nasal congestion is usually due to swollen nasal membranes from inflammation of blood vessels.
Sinusitis is any condition of inflammation in the sinuses connected to the nasal cavity. A simple runny nose is defined by unusually large amounts of nasal fluids with or without inflammation and blocked nasal breathing. Catarrh is a runny nose with thick mucus and white blood cells in response to an infection. Snot and Boogers are the slang term for congealed nasal mucus as it dries.
Types of Stuffy NosesMany stuffy noses result in the Common Cold. When chronic cold forces the nose to remain stuffed, the inability to flush mucus from the nasal passages may also promote growth of bacteria and viruses. A delicate balance is the key to avoiding sinusitis. The very ordinary ailment we call a common cold is known as Pratishyaya in Ayurveda. Common Colds indicate the presence of rhinoviruses, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), adenoviruses, enteroviruses, and many others. Other types of stuffed or blocked noses include polyps and injury to the temples (not covered here).
The main causes of stuffy and runny noses are:
Signs & Symptoms
There are four pairs of sinuses in the head. The location of the pain can indicate where the infection is more prominent.
Sinusitis usually follows a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. The viruses damage the cells lining the sinuses, causing inflammation, swelling, and buildup of fluids that obstruct the nasal passages. The obstruction disrupts elimination of bacteria normally present in the sinus cavity. The bacteria multiply and invade the sinuses causing thick yellowish or greenish exudate. Allergens, pollutants, dryness, and chronic acid reflux create a similar effect, damaging the lining of the sinuses.
Streptococcuspneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Moraxella catarrhalis are normally involved in acute sinusitis. Staphylococcus aureus and anaerobes are sometimes involved in chronic sinusitis. Fungi is an increasing cause of chronic sinusitis, especially in people with compromised immunity, such as with AIDS, leukemia, and diabetes.
Ayurveda considers these pathogens opportunists taking advantage of an underlying weakness. Rather than fight the pathogen, Ayurveda considers the pathogen a symptom and addresses the deeper disease patterns that promote their growth. Disease patterns that commonly lead to infection of the sinuses include a diet or lifestyle with an excess of the following qualities:
Soups are traditional dietary foods for common cold and sinusitis. The warm broth of a vegetable or chicken soup warms the blood and entire body.
Kapha people often get stuffy noses in the spring when the blood is naturally rich. If heavy, rich foods have triggered a flood of mucus, a day of light fasting helps clear mucus and dry out the blood. Keep the head and chest warm with a hat and plenty of layers. Sweets and dairy should be avoided including cheese, yogurt, & milk because these provoke mucus (Kapha). Avoid cold water and swallowing mucus. Pitta people get stuffy noses due to allergies and Vata people due to cold quality and toxins in the colon.
Cilantro and an Ayurvedic herb called guduci are hypoallergenic.
Mouth breathing and suppressed appetite causes significant dryness irritating nasal passages. Take care to prevent dehydration. Vata may employ daily oil massage except where fever is present to balance dryness and keep the skin warm. After the acute infection has resolved, five drops of ghee, sesame oil, or nasya oil (medicated nasal oil) in each nostril daily will help the sinuses heal and restore the senses of taste and smell. Foods that are difficult to digest should be avoided. Cleanse the colon with gentle laxatives such as triphala and enema therapy.
Proper DrainageProper drainage of the sinus passages will help the bacterial infection to resolve. Since all infection involves Pitta dosha and inflammation, avoid substances that clear the sinuses by further irritating them.
Disclaimer: 'Sinus Infection' could be serious and should be checked by a medical doctor.
DIET REMEDIES FOR 'SINUS INFECTION'
PRODUCT REMEDIES FOR 'SINUS INFECTION'
FIND MORE RESPIRATORY HEALTH RELATED PRODUCTSSee our herbs & products in these categories. Or, click here for general Respiratory Health Tips.
DISCLAIMER: The pathogenesis of each person's condition is unique, and so the diet must be fit to the individual and the unique root causes of the condition in your body.
HOW DOES AYURVEDA HEAL 'SINUS INFECTION'?
AVOID DIETS, LIFESTYLES & HERBS THAT AGGRAVATE THESE EFFECTS
With Sinus Infection, one or more of the following
and qualities may be aggravated.
If you have an imbalance of one of these doshas or qualities, Ayurveda recommends avoiding foods and lifestyle habits that aggravate that quality and/or dosha.
These imbalanced doshas and qualities may need to be brought back into balance before this condition can be healed.
Click on the quality to learn what foods and
lifestyle habits should be avoided.
Symptoms Tell A StoryThe first step to healing is learning patterns from your symptoms. Symptoms are clues that reveal underlying imbalances, showing you where your body is weak. Specifically, they reveal the doshas & qualities that may have become aggravated. If you notice a quality or dosha appears next to many of your symptoms, it helps you establish a pattern that may be systemic.
V = VATA, P = PITTA, K = KAPHA
To learn more about the symbols above, click on them.
FAVOR DIETS, LIFESTYLES & HERBS WITH THESE MEDICINAL EFFECTSEverything you eat has an effect on your body, which Ayurveda categorizes in a simple and easy way, using gunas. Gunas are qualities (like cold and hot) that describe the effect a food or herb has on your body. Cooling foods like cucumber, decrease metabolism. Heating foods like chili pepper, stimulate your body and increase metabolism. For 'Sinus Infection', you should select foods with the following qualities (gunas). Individual results will vary, based on your body type and the root cause of your imbalance.
To learn more about the symbols above, click on them.
ANTIMICROBIALAn agent that kills microorganisms or inhibits their growth. Antimicrobial is an umbrella term that can be broken down into specific categories of target microorganism, such as anti-bacterials, fungals, and virals.
FLUSHES-MEMBRANESHerbs in this category stimulate mucus membranes to release fluids, flushing them out.
IMMUNE-STIMULANTStimulates and strengthens the immune system. Helpful when fighting off a cold or flu.
Lung and Sinus:
ADDRESS ISSUES IN STAGE OF DISEASE 3SINUS INFECTION IS IN STAGE OF DISEASE 3 - ATTACKING TISSUE
If you have symptoms in this category it means that your imbalances are becoming stronger and weakening your body's resistance. Most people have a weakness in one or more organs. These areas of weakness are the 'weak link in the chain.' They are first to succumb when an imbalance reaches a tipping point. Repairing imbalances in this category often represent your last opportunity to prevent disease. At any moment, these imbalances could overwhelm weakened tissue and develop into a disease. You may feel pain or discomfort in the weakened area. At this stage you will need to support the weakened tissue with specialized foods and herbs for the weakened tissue.
REDUCE THESE RELATED SYMPTOMS & HABITSThe following symptoms & habits may be related to 'Sinus Infection'. See your quiz results for a computerized assessment of your body type. Please click on the symptoms below to learn more about them.
DO YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR UNIQUE BODY?
What aggravates it? What heals it? Then get your Personal Ayurvedic Body Book! This book, written by founder and director of Joyful Belly, John Immel, is individually formatted for your unique body and will help you confidently choose food that restores your healthy glow to get you feeling like your best self. Just $19.99!
HOW AYURVEDA WORKSARE YOU WONDERING HOW AYURVEDA CAN HELP YOU?
WHY IS AYURVEDA THE RIGHT SOLUTION?Ayurveda strengthens the body, in addition to addressing the disorder. It take a holistic, systemic approach, instead of myopically focusing on the disorder in question. Ayurveda shows a person how to interpret signs and symptoms of imbalance, and how to address them using materials from home, so they can optimize their health on a continual basis. You can't take the doctor home with you, but you can take Ayurveda home with you. Ayurveda is the most advanced and easy to use home system for self healing with an exceptional focus on digestion.
HOW DOES AYURVEDA WORK?Ayurveda starts by identifying your body type, which identifies certain tendencies in your body to get sick (as well as identifying your strengths). It uses body type to determine the likely root causes of your disorders. Next, Ayurveda analyzes the nature of your disorder. It fits all your signs and symptoms into a pattern, expressed as a combination of gunas / qualities. For example, you may have a heat disorder, a cold disorder, or an oily disorder, etc. This simple categorical approach shows you how to correct systemic imbalances and strengthen your body as a whole.
On Joyful Belly, we've created an extensive categorization of food so you can easily match food to your imbalances (gunas). By eating an optimal diet that balances your gunas, your whole body is strengthened and the conditions that created the disorder are removed. Once the root causes of the disease are removed, the disease lessens in strength or disappears altogether. Additional remedies - such as herbs and lifestyle practices - focused on the specific disorder, can greatly enhance your healing.
Want to learn more about Ayurveda and its step-by-step approach to healing? Click below.LEARN MORE
GET STARTEDTo get started on your Ayurvedic journey, we first recommend that your find your body type by taking our free quiz. In Ayurveda, every solution is based on your unique body type, so by taking this quiz, you’ll get the best results.
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About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. His online course Balance Your Ayurvedic Diet in a Week provides tools for gracefully healing with Ayurveda to thousands. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.
Comments & Personal ExperiencesHow does 'sinus infection' affect your quality of life? What aggravates it? What has helped you? Is there something you'd like to know about 'sinus infection'?
(5.00 out of 5 stars) 5 reviews, 36 likes
Wow! As always, an article full of rich, unique content! I remember a remedy from childhood - when we had a headcold, we'd take a pinch of anise seeds (ajwain) wrapped in a soft hanky and sniff at it all day. It was comforting for sure, but I don't recollect if it helped with the symptoms.
Very thorough and informative!
Tis is so beneficial right now as my students are all overly busy with kids and school and activities. And getting run down as the season and temperature changes so abruptly and we all get jammed in together at school and work...it's a tough time to get sick. So this info is timely to say the least. Dawn Boys, West Kelowna, BC
Kumar, Try some chamomile compresses on your eyes and a eucalyptus tea inhalation to clear your sinuses.
Thank you so much for the wonderful tips! Any advice for the accompanying neck pain that can come with sinusitis?
Massage can help with drainage and relieve neck tension. If you don't have access, try laying on a tennis ball and gently rolling it around the tense areas.