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How to Prevent and Treat Sinus Infections

Allergy, Immune | September 18, 2017 | Author: Naturopath

Immune, allergy

How to Prevent and Treat Sinus Infections

Sinusitis is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection and to some extent is a normal part of common cold and influenza-like illnesses. Non-infectious causes can play a part too and include allergy, deviated septum, tumour, polyps, trauma and foreign body. Symptoms of sinusitis include a runny nose, nasal congestion, facial pain and fever. For some people sinus can be a chronic problem that reoccurs more than 3-4 times per year. In these cases, it is usually related to allergies or chronic low-grade nasal or dental infection.

Allergic causes

Sinus is more common in winter and spring, making it very clear that the main causes are infections and allergy. When an allergen such as pollen or a mould spore is inhaled by a person with a sensitised immune system, it triggers an overreactive immune response. Antibodies are produced which then degranulate mast cells. This reaction releases histamine and other chemicals which cause excess mucus production, itching and swelling.

Avoiding allergens

If sinusitis is related to allergens, finding out what is triggering them can be helpful. It may be animal dander, mould, grass, pollen or dust mites. Although it is sometimes tricky to avoid these causes some preventative measures can be utilised to try and reduce exposure. This may involve regular vacuuming, removing carpet, using low-allergen bedding, avoiding animals and not going outdoors if windy or if there are high pollen counts. Allergens may also be present in the diet. Typical culprits include dairy products, wheat, eggs, citrus, nuts, corn, peanuts, nuts and shellfish.

Dietary recommendations

Dietary recommendationsOverall, it is recommended to reduce dairy, wheat, saturated fats, salt and sugar in the diet. Cows’ dairy is considered a mucus forming food as well being a common intolerant/allergenic item. Trial dairy-free replacements such as almond, rice or oat milk. If infection is present it’s important to eat foods that help to support the immune system. This include eating loads of fresh fruit and veg, especially ginger, onions, turmeric and a little chili.

Boost intake of omega-3 essential fatty acids from walnuts, chia seeds and seafood, while decreasing trans and saturated fats from processed meat, dairy, poor-quality cooking oil and eggs.

Hot beverages and meals help to thin mucous and reduce congestion. Drinking herbal teas and eating soups and broths are perfect examples which also help to keep up hydration.

Steam inhalations

Placing your head over a bowl of steaming water and breathing in through the nose for 5 minutes is an easy way to thin mucous and reduce congestion.

inhalationsIt is even more effective with essential oils as they have antimicrobial properties. Add a few drops of lavender, peppermint, tea tree or eucalyptus essential oil. When showering add a few drops to the floor and breathe in the vapours or apply to the chest before bed. Saline sprays with or without essential oils can be sprayed every few hours during infection. Some people find a saline wash a beneficial way to remove congestion quickly.

Specific nutrients for sinusitis

Quercetin and bromelain

Quercetin is a potent antioxidant that reduces inflammation, helps to breakdown mucus and reduces the symptoms of allergies. It can be combined with a bromelain for a stronger action. Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme that can improve breathing and decrease mucosal inflammation in people with chronic sinusitis.

Vitamin C and bioflavonoids

Vitamin CVitamin C is needed to boost immune function, reduce allergy and resolve infection. Bioflavonoids is found in foods with vitamin C and enhances its function in the body. To reduce symptoms of allergy and sinusitis take a dose of vitamin C and bioflavonoids every few hours. Once the infection has been cleared a small daily dose for general wellbeing can be maintained.


Zinc is required for a healthy immune system to protect against infection. It has potent anti-viral properties that help reduce inflammation in the respiratory tract as a result of irritants and the human rhinovirus. In children with chronic rhinosinusitis levels of zinc, vitamin E, vitamin C and copper were found to be significantly lower compared to control group. Although there are no studies no confirm the use of zinc in patients with sinusitis, it has many properties which strongly indicate its use.


Anything that helps to remove mucus is very beneficial to those who suffer sinusitis. N-Acetylcysteine is one such example of a supplement that reduces the viscosity and build-up of mucus—allowing for easier removal. Another advantage is that N-Acetylcysteine is a potent antioxidant – involved in liver detoxification and the removal of waste products. This product is in a practitioner only range and is only available through your naturopath or doctor.

Herbal medicine

Herbal medicineImmune-enhancing herbs such as echinacea and andrographis and Goldenseal, garlic and horseradish to assist in breaking up thick mucus in the sinuses and easing congestion.

Anti-allergic herbs such as albizzia, perilla and baical skullcap may tone done the allergic response if needed. Although there is lack of evidence to show the effectiveness of these herbs in sinusitis, there is substantial evidence supporting their traditional use.

Pelargonium sidoides is one of very few herbs with clinical studies conducted on individuals with sinusitis. Participants who took this herb had a significantly faster recovery compared to placebo. Australia's best online discount chemist


Hechtman L (2014). Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Churchill Livingstone, Australia

Büttner L, et al. Efficacy and tolerability of bromelain in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis--a pilot study. B-ENT. 2013;9(3):217-25

Unal M, et al. Serum levels of antioxidant vitamins, copper, zinc and magnesium in children with chronic rhinosinusitis. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2004;18(2):189-92

Machhi A, Terranova PCastelnuovo P. Recurrent acute rhinosinusitis: a single blind clinical study of N-acetylcysteine vs ambroxol associated to corticosteroid therapy. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2012 Jan-Mar;25(1):207-17

Bachert C, et al. Treatment of acute rhinosinusitis with the preparation from Pelargonium sidoides EPs 7630: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Rhinology. 2009 Mar;47(1):51-8

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