Have you ever experienced sinus congestion that lasted longer than a week? When sinus pain and congestion lingers, it can be tricky to find over the counter medications that offer long term solutions. So, as we head into the time of year when more people are experiencing this issue, let’s wanted to spend some time talking about unexpected causes and solutions for chronic sinus issues.
The following are a list of four unexpected causes of sinus pain and congestion:
Food Allergies & Intolerances
You might not realize this, but many people get sinus congestion from food allergies or intolerances. Foods like gluten, dairy, eggs, refined sugars, alcohol and others can trigger a general inflammatory response where the sinuses become inflamed because of increased levels of histamine in the body. These reactions often come with bloating, sneezing, or itchy feelings, but not necessarily.
If you find that your sinus inflammation is worse after eating certain foods, it might be time to try an elimination diet. The most basic way to do this is to remove the most common inflammatory foods from your diet for 30 days and then slowly introduce them back into your life one at a time. If the inflammation comes back, it is easy to identify which foods are your triggers and that you should avoid those foods in the future.
Chronic Infections cause Chronic Sinus Congestion
Chronic sinus issues can also come from low-grade infections which can be viral, bacterial or fungal. The presence of biofilms formed by these pathogens can make these types of infections hard to treat. Biofilm is a plaque produced by colonies of bacteria that blanket and protect them from the effects of antibiotics.
Washing the sinuses with warm, sterile saline water can help lingering infections. We also have antiviral, antifungal and antibiotic herbal medicine that can be safely taken to break down biofilms and help fight infection while supporting the immune system.
Weak Immune Systems cause Chronic Sinus Congestion
Some people also have an issue with a weak Immune system. Diseases that weaken the immune system make it more difficult for the body to fight infections and inflammation.
Overuse of certain medications, and eating an imbalanced diet can damage the good, beneficial bacteria in the intestines which play an essential roll in critical immune functions. If you find that you are always getting sick, and at the same time have chronic digestive issues like bloating or indigestion, a holistic look at the problem is likely indicated. A light cleanse may be helpful.
Tight Muscles/TMJ cause Chronic Sinus Congestion
You wouldn’t normally consider it, but facial muscles can also become irritated if sinus cavities are inflamed. Surrounding the sinuses, you have small muscles that help with facial expressions and other functions. When there is local face inflammation, muscles develop areas of hyperirritability.
These hypersensitive areas cause predictable pain patterns like headaches in the forehead, around the eyes, ears, and nose. Acupuncture combined with plant extracts is an extremely effective way of resolving this type of pain. Diluted essential oils like peppermint can also be massaged into facial muscles that are tender and sore.
Similarly, when muscles are tight, this can sometimes impede good sinus drainage. Many times when you work to release tight muscles in the jaw and face from patients who clench or have TMJ, the sinuses will start to drain immediately!
How We Are Different
Here at Centered: Richmond Acupuncture, we do provide relief from symptoms. However, beyond that, we spend the time on the front end to clearly understand the big picture. Many factors can cause chronic sinus inflammation. The factors that trigger symptoms need to be considered and resolved at the same time as providing symptomatic relief. When we take this approach the sinus issues will very frequently clear up and stay that way.