Tools to Fight Sinus Inflammation
Your sinuses are easily blocked by inflammation because their outlets are narrow passageways coated with sensitive mucus membranes. Once your sinuses become inflamed you may develop symptoms including facial pressure and pain, ear pain, headache, and difficulty breathing through your nose. Triggers for inflammation include common allergens like dust, pollen, and viral infections that cause the common cold. In addition many patients experience sinus inflammation related to eating dairy products. Once the sinuses are blocked it is possible for bacteria inside to overgrow worsening the symptoms and causing more systemic illness (which usually causes fever, loss of appetite, and generalized malaise). The more times you have been treated with antibiotics for a sinus infection the more aggressive and hard to treat the bacteria that colinizes the sinuses becomes leading to the vicious cycle.
Lifestyle STRATEGIES to reduce sinus infalmmation
For patients with seasonal allergies wash hands and face and add an evening shower after being exposed to allergens. My patients frequently report dramatic improvement in sinus symptoms when they eliminate most dairy form their diet especially surrounding times when they are experiencing symptoms (yogurt may be an exception as it it is full of probiotics). Help your body fight infection by getting extra sleep and eating probiotic and anti-infammatory foods. Using a neti pot which is a simple device which allows you to rinse your sinuses, has also proven an invaluable tool to keeping infections away.
Medications that reduce symptoms and can even prevent an infection
Just because I like a natural approach does not mean you have to suffer with sinus symptoms with no medical intervention. Many medications most of which are over the counter can be used acutely not only to reduce your symptoms but importantly to keep the sinus passage ways open so that bacteria do not become trapped and overgrow. I recommend the below regimen for when patients first have any symptoms of sinus inflammation.
Start with Zyrtec-D during the day (generic is fine, it opens the sinuses and reduces nasal discharge) You can also take the components of this drug separately (the D stands for decongestant like Sudafed).
Use a steroid nasal spray like Flonase 2 sprays per nostril 1-2 times per day (after the shower is a good time as the mucus membranes are moist).
Use Ibuprofen 600mg 2-3 a day with food (this relieves headaches and also has anti-infammatory effect).
In addition you can add Benadryl 25mg at bedtime (to help prevent post nasal drip and decrease cough).