prevent sinus infections



If you've ever had a cold that seemed like it wouldn't go away, you're likely one of the 37 million Americans who get sinusitis every year. The sinuses are located between your eyes and behind your cheeks and forehead. If your sinuses don't drain properly, an infection can result. Since all of your sinuses drain into your nose, it makes sense that when your nose gets irritated by the common cold or even by a severe allergy attack, the passageways that drain your sinuses can get blocked, and lead to an infection. What can you do to keep this common and annoying illness from interfering with your active lifestyle? Try these tips.

Control Allergies Allergies are extremely common and underdiagnosed. They are a setup for sinusitis. Sneezing, a runny or itchy nose and watery or itchy eyes are all signs of allergy. Allergy testing can help identify those items to which you are most allergic. Remember, the most effective way of addressing allergies is prevention. For example, curtains, carpets and decorative pillows may harbor dust mites that can cause allergy attacks. Also, an air purifier that contains a HEPA filter can be beneficial for lowering airborne allergens, especially when placed in the bedroom.

Don't Be Nice to Your Cold Colds run amok can turn into sinus infections, so don't be nice to your cold. The key is to try to prevent your sinus drainage passageways from getting blocked. One helpful technique is to irrigate your nose and sinuses with a squeeze bottle filled with salt water. You can buy a sinus irrigation kit (also called sinus rinse) at your local pharmacy without a prescription. Most products come with pre-measured salt packets.

Also, don't fly with a cold if possible: The change in pressure can stress your sinuses, causing a sinus infection, not to mention a very painful descent!

Do You Get Sick a Lot? You may have recurrent sinusitis. After one infection clears, another one pops up weeks — or even months — down the line, There's good news for those prone to this stubborn illness — prevention is sometimes as easy as using daily salt-water nasal irrigation. The same salt water solution that's used to treat sinus infections can also be used to prevent them.

In general, chronic sinusitis lasts for 12 weeks or longer and is often associated with allergies. Acute sinusitis, however, is usually due to bacterial infections.

For those with persistent symptoms who have tried everything, ask your doctor about other treatment options.

Three Drug-Free Solutions A few natural options that are effective include the following remedies and dietary changes:

Sinupret: This proprietary herbal formula (with sorrel, elderberry, gentian and other herbs) is popular in Europe and helps promote upper respiratory and nasal passage health. Follow label directions for dosage. Several products featuring Sinupret are on the market, including a formula by Bionorica.
Bromelain: Found naturally in the stem of pineapple, bromelain is an excellent anti-inflammatory for acute and chronic sinusitis. Scientific studies show that bromelain can significantly reduce inflammation of the nasal lining, as well as help minimize nasal discomfort and breathing difficulties. Bromelain is widely available in supplement form. Follow manufacturer's directions for dosage guidelines.
Diet: A healthy diet is always important to support your immune system and help fight off sinusitis. Ironically, eliminating some foods may also help. For example, cow's milk products, along with other foods, such as eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish and tree nuts, are the most common food allergens. Sensitivities to foods can worsen sinusitis and should be ruled out by an elimination-challenge diet or allergy testing.
[Editor's note: See pages 36 and 40 for articles on foods that fight inflammation and the best diet for allergy and asthma sufferers.]

IS IT SINUSITIS? Most common major symptoms:
Facial pain or pressure

Nasal blockage

Nasal drainage

Reduced sense of smell

Discolored postnasal drip

Also common, although not present in all cases:


Ear pain or pressure


Dental pain


Bad breath

A popular new way to prevent sinus and allergy problems is with XLEAR Nasal Wash. This unique spray is designed to moisturize nasal passages with the natural substance xylitol. According to the manufacturer, Xlear helps wash away bacteria, allergens like pollen, and environmental pollutants. Also try for colds, symptoms caused by dry air and overuse of nasal decongestants. — nb




By Steven E. Davis, MD

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